As with any music scene, evolution can only come from artists pushing against the history and conventions of their preferred genre or genres. The hip-hop scene in Chattanooga has seen this kind of extensive development in the past few years—thanks in part to a host of talented musicians stretching the limits of what is expected when it comes to rap music. No single artist has built this scene; it's come from the effort and inspiration of dozens of individuals. And when you see the scene as artist Marley Fox does, you begin to understand how this progression is really just the initial steps of something much larger.
With the release of his new EP, "Parlay," Fox gathers a handful of local musicians—including Bbymutha, 2$on, J Flo, Kya Kush, Seauxchill and Zowie Boyd—and creates a groove-addled environment of bitter resignation, valiant emotional catharses and barbed lyrical desperation. There's a sharp minimalism at work, the kind of subtle noise that echoes with a dozen influences but holds its own specific shape and possesses an inimitable rhythmic distinctiveness that sets it apart from the sea of faceless hip-hop that clings to mainstream music's coattails.
Fox has delivered a vicious and relevant series of diatribes and revelations that speak to the core truth of his own experiences. Life is hard, but giving up isn't an option. He seems to understand that you have to take the ragged times in your life and use them to create something special, something unique. And through the twisting roads that "Parlay" races across, we come to see both the beauty and the desperation that live side by side in our lives. We may not be able to change the fact that they're there, but we certainly can change the way we perceive and react to them. And with these tracks, Fox has defiantly put life on his own terms, conjuring a scarred landscape of anger, anxiety and attitude.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.