Hannibal Lecture (often abbreviated to just Lecture) has a voice and style that’s drawn from the streets as much as it is the manic confines of his own complicated mind. He uses the lithe avenues of hip-hop as a conduit for a swaggering braggadocio, the search for lyrical truth and music that makes you move without asking whether you want to or not. Like some well-known rappers, he has a tangible sense of identity, and it allows him to both acknowledge and shield his own emotions while offering up some indelible beats and hyper-focused arrangements for our enjoyment.
He’s been making the rounds at various venues across Chattanooga, building up a fanbase who eagerly wait for any mention of new music. And while the Scenic City is no stranger to great hip-hop, Lecture approaches the genre with a lithe mix of humor, vitriol and theatricality. His work is bathed in the glow of stark rhythms and labyrinthine lyrical passages but is kept accessible by his personable narratives and ability to turn the most ordinary of experiences into something utterly captivating.
On his latest single, “Gassed Up,” he teams up with Q Bosilini to deliver a fierce and infectious track that hums with an internal energy and electricity. Opening with distorted vocals and what sounds like a mutated calliope, the song quickly brings in a skittering beat that crawls up your spine before lodging itself firmly in your brain. He touches on some of the usual rap themes including the consumption of illicit substances, “hip-hop is knowledge” ideologies and the desire to find a purpose in life.
Aided by Q Bosilini, he tackles these heady topics with a bravura intensity, finding iron-wrought resolve in the words and music that he creates and casting aside all unnecessary things. And while money, fame and influence all place a part in his lyrics, the true motivating factor here is acknowledgement of artistry and his need to be seen as more than the sum of his lyrics. And with “Gassed Up,” he certainly aims high, finding determination in every syllable and beat. It’s a song laced with the insults and swagger common to the genre but is a song founded upon the idea that anyone can find comfort and peace who’s seen some bad things. All you have to do is keep pushing and fighting for what you love and that needed calm will follow close behind.
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.