Subversive Ciphers is a collection of four tracks. Two from Jesse Dangerously and one each from Batya The Toon and The Mighty Rhino.
It’s often overlooked these days that Jesse Dangerously is one of the earliest proponents of Nerdcore Hip-Hop despite a myriad of guest appearances on releases that span the sub-genre over the years. He’s also a bonafide member of rap posse ‘Backburner Crew’ whose output incorporates the nerdier side of Hip-Hop.
Don’t expect obvious raps about pop-culture topics from Dangerously though. The rapper has a clever way of combining political and/or societal messages through a vaguely nerdy filter. Most recently the rapper has been channeling his thoughts on the challenges of being gay and the problems and discrimination faced by the LGBT scene.
The problem fans of his music is, Jesse Dangerously isn’t particularly prolific with his personal projects choosing to release new music in dribs and drabs. A single here, a track there. The good news is that when he does drops something new it’s usually pretty damn good. This is particularly true of his latest effort, ‘Subversive Ciphers’. Though ‘Subversive Ciphers’ isn’t a Jesse Dangerously solo release as such, it does feature two songs from the rapper alongside two tracks from Batya The Toon and The Mighty Rhino respectively.
Whilst the main inspiration for the opener ‘A Secret Gay Film on its 30th Birthday’ is the classic fantasy movie ‘Labyrinth’, there’s a more serious meaning lurking in the metaphor running through the narrative. Each of the four tracks reflect on personal challenges and societal struggles, and despite three very distinct vocal styles from each of the emcees the sentiment and feeling behind the lyrics as a whole is unified. Musically each of the tracks is easy on the ear and relies heavily on a melodic approach.
As much as I enjoy each of the four tracks my particular standout is the second effort from from Jesses Dangerously titled ‘Coming Out Wrong’. There’s nothing subliminal about the message in the song and the track comes in two versions. One with a recording of a homophobic speech sampled in, the other without.
‘Subversive Ciphers’ is available now via Jesse Dangerously’s bandcamp page as a name your price digital download. The release is also available on cassette priced at $8 plus shipping and completists can also pick up a lyric ‘zine’ for a further $3 plus shipping.