Pariah x Robscire, "Idle Hands"

Whoa. Here’s a nice surprise from a Quad Cities-based project that until this point has been nowhere near my personal radar. A five-track EP of mostly instrumental hip-hop beats from the Davenport duo Pariah and Robscire, Idle Hands perfectly scratches a sweet spot between the kinetic, proto-trap drum patterns and throbbing basslines of Memphis hip-hop staples such as Three 6 Mafia, and a strain of more tripped-out modern-rap beatmaking closer to, say, Death Grips.

EP opener “Shtink” kicks off the vibe straight away with its stuttering washes of electronic texture and its rounded, grooving bassline. No vocalist is credited anywhere on the release, so I’m guessing that the vocals that pop into the mix now and then are sampled from other sources (a classic Three 6 strategy employed most extensively on their earliest releases). The frantic, pitched 808 tom hits of “Jesus Wept” sound like dead ringers for the drums on early Triple Six classic “Talk Ya Ass Off,” splitting the difference between a melodic line and a beat-pushing rhythmic element – though the distinctly hi-fi production quality of the duo’s music plants the final product closer to the golden era Memphis revivalism of Lil Ugly Mane’s modern classic Mista Thug Isolation.

Elsewhere, “These Moments” crests closer to Project Pat’s “Choices” with its tightly chopped soul vocal samples and monstrous beat patterns build over bone-thick kick drums and crisp snares. The Hypnotize Minds factor is only one part of the appeal here, though, as the duo’s sensibilities for the narrative flow of a beat and the small electronic details they plant throughout elevate them to a stratum far above Memphis cosplay. EP closer “Resolve” grooves over a chubby bass line that crackles with distortion, which nicely contrasts against little droplets of electric piano and filter sweeps that arrive to wash out the mix for a few seconds before it kicks back in. “Full Time Gangsta” presents another instance of what sound like a sampled verse, though it ends up spanning the entire track’s length, so it could be an original verse by an MC intended specifically for this release. As another potential inspiration Easter egg here, the keyboard line sounds almost identical to the lead organ melody of “Beneath the Mask,” one of the most iconic tracks from the soundtrack to the video game Persona 5. Part of me thinks that’s just a coincidence, but another part thinks that these dudes have trawled through so much pop culture that a nod to a modern game fits right into their world.

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