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.