Category: The Knux

Album review: The Knux's 'Eraser'

The Knux

Before Lil Wayne poured himself into skinny jeans, the Knux redefined rap in its own iconoclastic hipster image on the 2008 debut “Remind Me in 3 Days....” New Orleans-bred, L.A.-based sibling duo Alvin and Kentrell Lindsey tweaked genre expectations with un-gangsta lyrics, then-unfashionable electronica influences, and virtuosic musical dimension (unlike Weezy’s amateurish strumming, these cats can actually play their guitars with aplomb). On the group’s new album, “Eraser,” the Knux push even further, resulting in one of 2011’s most startling, assured releases.

Eraser opens with “The Road,” a trippy, synthed-out instrumental that could’ve come from Primal Scream’s acid-house era — and things only get more gloriously weird from there. Every song percolates with Jack White-style garage riffs, unexpected glam-rock beats and outright psychedelia, showing no restraint in taking sounds and structure as far as possible. That’s not to say the Knux has foregone massive hooks — “Run,” featuring a memorable cameo from Kid Cudi amid Strokes-style barre chords, is as catchy a single as any released this year; still, even club bangers like the rave-tastic “I See Stars” lace hands-in-the-air melodicism with quizzical melancholy. Lyrically, the Lindseys don’t hold back either, proving more political and imagistic than most of their major-label hip-hop peers: “Everyone’s suicidal from the cancer they believe in,” goes a typically provocative line from “Dead World.” From the lyrics to the sonics, the Knux here proves uncharacteristically brave amid its sheep-like peers: if anyone is to be heir to OutKast’s maverick throne, these guys might already have the keys to the kingdom.

The Knux
“Eraser”
(Cherrytree/Interscope)
Three and a half stars (Out of four)

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— Matt Diehl

The Knux 'Run' with Kid Cudi release new video

The cover of the Knux's "Run" single

In recent months, there's been a noticeable influx in rap and R&B songs devoted to the sleazy side of the cosmopolitan party scene. Danny Brown's recent "XXX" was a near perfect distillation of amphetamines, heart palpitations and paranoia brought out by a decade of nonstop stimulation, while Toronto's the Weeknd has carved a career out of louche come-ons deployed toward a series of nondescript females.

Like the skinny jeans they were lambasted for until such gear became standard issue, the Knux can claim to be first on the trend. Hip-hop has long since assimilated into the realm of multicultural "party music"; the Knux's 2007 "Remind Me in Three Days" was one of the first records that cataloged the pros and cons of the fast life.

Of course, the world of champagne and Bentleys had been intricately depicted by the likes of Jay-Z and the Bad Boy artists, but the Knux aimed to show a darker, less glamorous but still glitzy side. And though at times they erred on the side of glorification, it was a fully fleshed portrait of what it's like to descend into the psychic purgatory and heavy drugs of a night out in the greater SBE world.

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The Knux return (finally) with new single, 'She's So Up.' Verdict?

The-KNUX-700-Downtown-LA-Photo-Dan-Monick-hi-res-1024x682 Raised in New Orleans but based in Los Angeles, the Knux have kept it relatively low profile for the last few years. While most of their rap peers flood the market with constant product, the Lindsay brothers have never released a mixtape -- though they came vaguely close with last January's expletive-titled EP.

Instead, they've toured relentlessly, rocking most of the major domestic festivals and quite a few international ones. They've touted the merits of pizza on Twitter, and posted narratives of psychedelic journeys, experimental films, and Neil Young and Stooges videos on their Tumblr pages.

So, the news of the Interscope group's first single from their still-untitled sophomore album ought to be cause for celebration. At least that's the intent of "She's So Up," an uptempo party rock tune that finds the brothers veering away from their psychedelic hip-hop experiments into something more Billboard-friendly. After all, the forthcoming full-length will be released on Cherry Tree, the alternative-pop division of Interscope responsible for the massive success of Lady Gaga and the Far East Movement.

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