Sometimes strange is beautiful
The album, “A Piece of Strange,” by the strangly-named Cunninlynguists follows the story of a man and those closest to him in their struggles with right and wrong, love and hate, faith and sin, and a multitude of biblical references. The concept works to establish the world of the album, and brings with it beats far more enhanced than any other Cunnin album. The Cunninlynguists are part of the collective southern hip hop I can’t get enough of. Outkast and Goodie Mob are two more examples of groups with similar sounds.
Cunninlynguists, the two-man group from Atlanta and Kentucky consists of Kno and Deacon the Villain. This time around, Mr. SOS, one-time album member, is taking a break and working on a solo album. Deacon’s affiliate, Natti, joins the group on seven of the 15 tracks. With two albums in their back catalogue, and much attention produced from their second album, titled “Southernunderground,” the Cunninlynguists are back. This time they have returned with a more mature, darker, and may I say, superior album: “A Piece of Strange.”
The first thing you will notice as a listener is that the title fits the album. This is a far more challenging, diverse, and depressing album compared to its predecessor. Nonetheless, as soon as APOS kicks in with “Since When,” Deacon and Natti let you know how hard it has been for them to make a name for themselves as southern acts. They show ultimately how difficult it is to make a subtle statement in a genre that values shock over quality. Along with that comes a more normal ‘Lynguist beat you would expect it’s a song that will definitely make your head nod. From there comes surprises like “Nothing to Give,” an evoking tale of what happens when the sun sets and our sins surface. Alongside it is a beat driven by a forceful piano loop that sets the strange mood for the rest of the album.
The beautifully assisted Cee-Lo track, “Caved In,” delves into life’s losses, and the mounting pressures a man experiences that make it hard for him to go on. “Hourglass” finds this man coming to the realization that time is running out and his pure self needs to find something to keep him afloat before the hourglass completely runs out. A striking sample accompanies “Beautiful Girl,” showcasing Kno who has become one of my favorite beat makers. “America Loves Gangsters” brings in grungy bass guitar support, sounding like a mix between the soul of Goodie Mob and the funk of Outkast. Heavy political opinionated rapper, Immortal Technique shows off his skills on “Never Know Why.” Fellow QN5 rapper/producer, Tonedeff makes an appearance on “The Gates”. After spending so much time behind the boards, Kno finally joins Deacon and Natti on “Brain Cell,” which samples Inspectah Deck’s vocals from Wu-Tang’s hit, “C.R.E.A.M.” In this track, they all spit distressing tales of disturbed childhoods.
Overall, APOS is solid from front to back, and you won’t hear an album like this anywhere in the current hip hop market. The ‘Lynguists have put aside their comedic skits, humorous, irreverent wordplay, and created a genius concept album that will blow you away. Three albums deep, it’s about time Cunninlynguists blow up.