I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME – THE THOUGHT
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
“It’s about creating haunted houses by filling them with the ghosts of your past.” – David McCloud
The Thought's latest LP is a master class at how to make unpleasant subject matter digestible and enjoyable music. It reminds me of Marshall Mathers LP and Kendrick's albums in its tone, complete story and high production value but with more modes than Slim and more boom-bap musical than Kendrick (whose work sounds to me more like a funk stage play than the kind of stuff I'd bump on the porch, just my opinion).
Thought lays out a harrowing tale of rape and abuse greatly complicating the already challenging journey of growing up. From the first song though he croons with subtly swelling instrumental backing, making this rough subject matter accessible even to someone who is just looking to enjoy a good rap album. It's unbelievable how well he delivers it without compromising his truth at all.
By the time you’re listening to “Amberwood”, you accept the terms of reality that Thought lays out in his gripping and confessional narrative. Lv.agn’s beautiful boom-bap beat, Thought’s unstoppable flow…what if Eminem gave a fuck to make you understand his fucked-up family instead of yelling vague vignettes about it at us? What if the great boom-bap MCs peeled back the bandage and really unpacked their traumas? What I’ve been processing in the weeks since I first heard this album is how cathartic it is for the genre. Thought’s not the first MC to go through abuse but he’s among the first I’ve heard go about expressing it in so vulnerable an album.
Listening to “Marion” it’s apparent how this album could easily be a movie; it could do with hip-hop what “Perks of Being a Wallflower” does with rock. The way this album is so frank and dark at times yet you also believe him when he takes the music to a more upward place- because this is the nature of the delicate and often pendulous balance of growing up. That his youthful spirit was still so resilient as to be able to express excitement about what may lie ahead as a result of moving to a new area, or back to another area, honestly highlights even more so the horror of abusing a young person.
By the time you’re at “Washington Marengo”, it’s just ridiculous how he’s achieved adherence to the album’s concept of touring the streets he’s lived on while also touching different styles (reflecting life’s different eras) and incorporating dope features like this one from Zen Stokely. Stellar production from Mozenraff, Lv.Agn and others contributes so much to this whole album.
“Center” reminds me of some of Gil Scott Heron’s more cathartic moments in its spiritual raising of Thought’s voice in a toast to personal progress. He follows through on the ideas laid out in the album, and for a nerd like me that counts for a lot.
The work isn’t just deep, the music is good. The boom-bap beats are impeccable, the vocal melodies, singing sections and rap sections. Even the upbeat songs , the positive songs are believable. It’s not just about the darkness of life. It’s a piece of art about life that doesn’t ignore the darkness, that confronts shit. It does so beautifully; you should witness it and be amazed at how you want to listen back, more than once, to this remarkable record.
The first music video to this album linked here
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdculture hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers