Lakutis - Three Seashells

I’ve known guys like this, and you probably have, too: Charismatic dirtbags, greasy-faced self-destructive party machines, guys who are really fun to have around until they start stealing your stuff. Girls love dudes like this, and the dudes who love those girls get all confused and frustrated over that. Lakutis came up with Das Racist, but he never really displayed their dense, theoretical liberal-arts frames of reference; instead, he came off as their townie friend who sometimes creeps people out at parties but who keeps getting invited because he always has cocaine. Lakutis has two gold fronts in his mouth, and he can’t pose for a picture without sticking his tongue out, which is perfect. He does not have a homemade forearm tattoo of the Exploited mohawk-skull logo, but he’s totally the type to have that. He’s Russian-American, and he’s from New York, and that’s perfect, too; you can live in New York for years and have no contact with its vast and terrifying Russian community beyond a few bad experiences with sheisty landlords. The one time I met Lakutis, he immediately asked me how big my dick is. (I’ve got big feet, and he noticed.) All of this is to say that Lakutis is a certain type: A type that most of us encounter at some point in our lives, but a type that I’ve never seen a rapper portray anywhere near this convincingly. And he can rap. That matters, too.

Even if he came off as their sketched-out little buddy, Lakutis has always been a more fluid and confident technical rapper than anyone else in the Das Racist crew. On his 2011 EP I’m In The Forest, Lakutis rapped in fast, brittle clumps of words when he wasn’t wailing Ja Rule choruses or whatever. He generally doesn’t rap like that on the new Three Seashells, but he more fully inhabits his persona. Lakutis grew up with New York hardcore, and the knucklehead chaos of those shows (not so much the music, but the shows) informs the way he haphazardly crashes his voice off the heavy, sputtering beats here. He usually doesn’t play the clever-reference game, instead barking out inscrutable tough talk (the world “skeleton” shows up constantly) and slithering up to girls, totally unencumbered by self-awareness. And when you’re listening, a weird transference starts to happen: You get to feel as drunk and addled as Lakutis sounds. Even when he’s largely ignoring conventional ideas of song-structure, Lakutis makes his antisocial social skills sound catchy. On “Too Ill For The Law,” for instance, he’s wholesale stealing Biggie Smalls’ “Kick In The Door” hook, about as non-obscure a New York rap hit as anyone could hope to name, but he does it with his own staggering flair, and he makes it his.

He also takes the early-’00s Def Jux dystopia-rap aesthetic and makes it into something drunk and sinister — dark party music. The beats on Three Seashells mostly come from producers I’ve never heard of (Steel Tipped Dove, Bill Ding), but they all share a love for punishing snare programming and squalid synths and eerie samples. That “Too Ill For The Law” beat, from HGHWND, struts while it falls down multiple flights of steps. Spvce’s “Mumra” beat sounds like the score to a particularly horrifying post-apocalyptic video game. Best of all: “Black Swann,” from producer SicksentZ, is a chaotic jumble of assaultive, disorienting drums and electro-noise smears of bass. It gives Lakutis and the tape’s sole guest, the ex-punk speed-rapper and reliably great Twitter personality DVS, a chance to get absolutely unhinged with their cadences. It also starts with Lakutis bellowing “Food fiiiiight,” so even at its most intense, this music never loses a certain hedonistic goofiness.

Between Three Seashells and Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron, we’re in the midst of a historically great week for staggering-drunk rap albums. Of the two, Oxymoron is the better album, put together with more care and craft. Its songs are better, its guest-verses are uniformly excellent, and it’ll mean a whole lot more to the whole pop-cultural landscape. But Three Seashells is the more convincingly drunk album. It’s a wild-card, an unstable molecule, overflowing with unpredictable energy and genuinely skeezy personality. If I were so drunk I could barely stand, it’s probably the album I’d want to hear.

Pay what you want to download Three Seashells here.

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Comments (9)
  1. I liked I’m In the Forest, but I was glad that this one featured a bit less silliness and a bit more straight rapping.

    These mixtape reviews are great, by the way. I wish they generated more regular comments. There aren’t enough places online to read this kind of high-level rap criticism.

  2. lakutis can steal my shit any day. after all he gave me this masterpiece for free

  3. For a mixtape named after a lame joke in Demolition Man, this is pretty damn good.

    Actually, fuck it, this is awesome either way.

  4. I wish I didn’t like rappers that look like Lakutis.

    Dope mixtape doe.

  5. This is unexpectedly rad.

  6. Never heard of Steel Tipped Dove?? He did beats on Lakutis’s first album, he’s all over Big Baby Ghandi’s first album, he’s on Tecla’s album, he’s on all of Kool AD’s mixtapes, this dude’s been blowing up for years. Bill Ding is not only a great beat maker but a great emcee as well.

  7. This is awesome and your description of Lakutis seems dead on. Him and Heems played a small show in my town. Me and a friend were able to talk for a minute with Heems, who was real gracious and cool, but the the whole time Laktutis was just doing pull ups in a doorway and just creepily staring at us. after the show he came out of the alley next to the venue where we were all out front, he stuck at his tongue, shut us a peace sign, and laughed, and then collapsed into the back seat of a car that we’re pretty sure wasn’t his and fell asleep. it was memorable.

  8. This is one of the best hip hop albums I’ve heard in a long time. Insanely original. The way he straddles the line between hysterical and dead serious is incredible. And yup, the guy can rhyme. Absolutely no filler on the album (even the two skits are kept to about 10 seconds). Highly recommended.

  9. three seashells, eh? i’m a sucker for a demolition man reference.

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