Semi Hendrix is the acid inside the headband and the fork inside the electric socket. It’s hard-core hip-hop, furious voltage spiked with funk and soul. It’s political and street, cerebral and reckless. It’s Jack Splash and Ras Kass running roughshod over everything from economic inequality to racist government policy to your girl. The album title is Breakfast at Banksy’s. Consider it the rare soundtrack for the revolution and the party.
The duo formed following Splash’s world tour with his underground cult funk band, Plantlife. Upon its conclusion, the 10-time Grammy-nominated producer and three-time winner decided to leave Miami in favor of Los Angeles. For the native Angeleno, this was where it all began. He’d seen incredible success over the previous decade, producing for Cee-Lo, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, and a slew of others. But he wanted to return to his roots and make a pure hip-hop album, a passion project with no input from industry types.
“I decided that if I was going to make true art, then I needed to work with the best of the best…the Picasso of the West Coast,” says Splash. “And everyone who comes from LA knows that it doesn’t get any better than Ras Kass.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Waterproof MC, you need to stop reading this and listen to Soul on Ice, Rasassination, and any of the tracks bodied by the Golden State Warriors (Ras, Saafir and Xzibit). Once you’ve done that, you understand why the Carson-bred rap beast is one of the coldest MCs to ever hypnotize an audience.
But neither Splash nor Ras has even done anything quite like Semi Hendrix—probably because no one has ever done anything quite like Semi-Hendrix. It’s a warped psychedelic odyssey glimpsed via two brilliant minds in a crooked world.
Produced entirely by Splash, the instrumentals recall classic genre-liquefying experiments like DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing and Bizarre Ride II: The Pharcyde. You can file Semi Hendrix somewhere between Gnarls Barkley and Run the Jewels.
Faded acid-washed freak-outs fade out from raunchy comedy clips. There are shredding guitar solos and nimble funk lines.
Meanwhile, Ras Kass spits flames about Brooklyn hipsters, greedy record labels, and Capitalist inequality. He interweaves Thomas Paine’s anti-Colonial tract, Common Sense with the rapper born Lonnie Lynn. In the course of four bars, he’ll slip in references to Biz Markie, Star Trek, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway.
The intellect is staggering, but never self-serious. He’ll go from talking about squirters to indicting “Stop and Frisk” policy. The sound is kaleidoscopic. Nothing is sacred. Guest spots include Brothers Voodoo, Cee-Lo and Raheem DeVaughn, Teedra Moses, Kurupt, Montego Meli, Alice Russell, Wrekonize, and Jessica. But for all its virtuosity, this is 100 percent raw. If you wanted to know who Semi Hendrix are, the answer is simple: they’re the wildest style.
Pre-order the Breakfast At Banksy’s album dropping October 16.