New Jersey rapper Fatboi Sharif tends to sway towards the absurd and the eccentric side to self-expression. He has, over the years, garnered a growing, dedicated fanbase (myself included) through incredible projects that feel dystopian and dark, but with a groovy undertone that keep them engaging and memorable. 2020’s Gandhi Loves Children captures his eccentricities perfectly, along with animated, engaging production from Roper Williams. This time around, the talented emcee has partnered with New York producer LoneSword, to create a 6-track EP titled Cyber City Society. It’s a short but punchy body of work that is gloomy and depressing, providing Fatboi Sharif a soundscape to paint his stories of depravity in a poignant and engaging way.
From the get-go, “Acid Rain” sets the tone off perfectly. With a disorienting, abrasive beat to kick things off, Fatboi Sharif comes through with a nightmarish flow, painting a picture of a dystopian, perverse society with precision, immersing myself into this world he’s been able to create. The off-kilter vocal sample on “Plastered” is disorienting, as Fatboi Sharif’s slow, stuttered flow contrasts the energy of the opener. The sloppy, sleepy beat on “Encrypted” is super hypnotic, while Sharif is able to delivery this drunken-sounding verse, but in a way that almost sounds possessed. The abstract paintings he’s able to express through words is incredible. He’s one of the more unique emcees I’ve listened to in quite a long time. SCVTTERBRVIN contributes a hellish, psychedelic verse about, I assume, visions of being high. The ‘beat’ here is minimal and striking, with a single, almost screeching synth that lingers around. The beat changes to this sampled instrumental that leads perfectly into “Monster Theme” featuring L.I.F.E. Long, who feeds off Fatboi Sharif’s almost childish, jokey aura on this track. The beat on this track is off-kilter as well, with an alarming synth that jumps out. The samples on this track provide it quite a visual experience. It’s like I’m watching some odd, David Lynch-esque dystopian short film, listening to a hellish, almost unwelcome soundscape. “Adolescence” is basically Fatboi Sharif providing a spoken word piece over a whispering beat providing a quiet soundtrack to city hustle. Maybe it’s because I’m into experimental hip-hop and music in general, but I admire tracks like these so much because Sharif here sounds exposed, almost vulnerable. The way he’s able to draw so much attention to his voice, with a commanding, almost booming voice, effortlessly rhyming words that, if you read on paper, for example, wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever, yet he’s able to make it work and just sound so good.
This project has made me more of a fan than I’ve been up until now. It’s not that I didn’t expect him to release a project this left-field and experimental (Gandhi Loves Children was challenging enough), but I guess I just didn’t expect to be so hypnotized and drawn to it. LoneSword, for someone I’m not as familiar with, has also exceeded expectations and has made me check his other projects out. Both artists have really come through with one of the most interesting projects I’ve listened to in a while, so please go ahead and check out Fatboi Sharif and LoneSword’s exceptional new EP Cyber City Society.