It’s one thing to make clever, inventive music, and its another entirely to make clever, inventive music while, at the same time, sounding like you couldn’t possibly give less of a fuck about whatever gifts you might possess. That skill is a rare and specific one, and the Seattle rapper Nacho Picasso has it. If you want to world to take you seriously, you don’t call yourself “Nacho Picasso” or use a fantasy novel-style picture of knights and naked chicks as your cover art. And yet here’s For The Glory, a restless and fun record full of slick jokes and twisty wordplay, all rendered in the same affectless, burnt-out drawl.
Here’s the first line on For The Glory‘s first track: “I pay a juggalo to come for your jugular.” Later on, he namechecks a long litany of Marvel Comics villains, brags about puking in your parents’ new car, calls your gun Bob Marley because “it be jammin’,” and complains that he kidnapped his own girlfriend and can’t pay the ransom. This is word-drunk nerd music, laced with a lot of the unfortunate shock-rap edge of the post-Odd Future internet-rap reality but done with enough slaphappy silliness that never really bothered me. Like the Tulsa, Oklahoma rapper TKO Capone, whose Tropical Swaggin Duh mixtape is one of my favorites of 2011, Nacho specializes in slippery punchlines, none too dumb or too oblique to toss out. And like TKO, he does it in a matter-of-fact drawly style that never slaps you over the head with the obviousness of his intelligence.
On “Marvel,” Nacho spends an entire song making forehead-slap superhero jokes: “Your girl Professor X, she good from the neck up,” that sort of thing. But on the chorus, he repeats one line over and over: “Smokin’, reading comic books.” That’s essentially his entire persona in one line. His raspy husk of a voice and his laconic delivery show the effects of the weed, and the imaginative dizziness and no-attention-span restlessness of his lyrics show the influence of comics. And honestly, that’s fine. Can you imagine the past half-century of popular culture without the influence of weed and comic books? Fucking christ. Total nightmare.
I don’t know much about what Seattle’s rap landscape looks like. The only Seattle rap entities I can name besides Nacho are Sir Mix-A-Lot, Jake One, and Shabazz Palaces, none of which sound anything like each other, and none of which sound anything like Nacho Picasso. A few like-minded guests, guys I’ve never heard of, turn up on For The Glory, but I can’t really tell if Nacho is a product of an actual scene or just a voice in the wilderness. His production is loose, airy synthetic bump from producers with names like Blue Sky Black Death and Raised By Wolves, and it fits nicely with the diffuse, glimmering stuff that younger mixtape rappers have been favoring lately. It fits Nacho’s approach nicely, and it moves his goofy voice into something resembling a zeitgeist. But even if many of Nacho’s quirks seem very 2011, he’s got a spacey, irreverent voice all his own, and it’s a voice worth hearing.
Download For The Glory right here.