Chattanooga hip-hop artist Kid Cuebas doesn't approach the fierce and ragged themes of his chosen genre without having already spent time discovering the nuance and gravity that come along with these inherently weighty sounds. Admittedly, he has some admirable aspirations—namely to tackle "themes of depression, anxiety, spirituality and the various struggles of being human," which is exactly how he described the songs on his most recent EP, "Super Poor Kids." Some time has passed since its release earlier this year, but Cuebas hasn't been resting on his laurels. He's continued to explore this self-described idea of "psychedelic rapping" and how it fits into the existing framework of modern hip-hop.
On his new single, "Horus," he careens through an industrial rap landscape, with bulging synths and plinking electronics moving around alongside him in the darkness. He doles out vast amounts of attitude and confidence in spades, tossing off mentions of weed and his own prowess behind the mic with a casual swagger. He even manages to work in some "Harry Potter" references, of all things. But the song isn't built around some random lyrical stream-of-conscious outpouring or fragmented musical dissociations; it's far more structured, while still relying on Cuebas' expansive and unpredictable musical direction to accomplish its aims.
His voice is a blunt force that slams into your chest and siphons the air from your lungs. Dense, shivering synths throb and shake in the background while beats thud and bounce along the periphery. There's an ominous rhythmic atmosphere, one that favors uncertain movements and melodic calisthenics. Produced by BeetoGz, the track reveals a depth of intent and creativity that Cuebas has only hinted at on his previous releases—which isn't to say his other work isn't as interesting, but there's a self-assurance and conviction on "Horus" that immediately stand out from anything else he's done. There are definitely some familiar ideas regarding his affection for marijuana and the parade of middle fingers that he displays to those who doubt his abilities, but it's all wrapped up in a package so tight and precise that these well-worn ideas feel completely extraordinary.
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.