I’ve been supporting Beat Garden Entertainment for some time now. With artists like 2 Gun Ciz and Nico The Beast,, the Philadelphia collective has been steadily releasing “real” boom bap rap for several years now. 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers is MC Zilla Rocca (one of the founders of the label), teamed with producer Douglas Martin, to form a typically gritty record. What makes this project different from most rap out today, like so many Beat Garden projects, it its focus on complex beats and lyrics. It’s not designed to make you thing–to use your head instead of just nod it.
This album is structured around samples from the underground film, Black of Silence, and features samples from Elliott Smith, Cat Power, Radiohead, and even western movies. “High Noon” is the rare example of a western rap that isn’t just a rap version of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti showdown–it’s got a real dusty feel. There’s not too much of this rolling around, and it’s pretty fucking cool. The fact that Zilla and Martin can pull of hipster references without sounding nerdy or forced is a testament to the heart they put in their work. Yes, Zilla is white. But he doesn’t sound like the two poles of white rap (Eminem or Aesop). If anything, he’s closer to MC Serch. But really, he’s a true original.