• Tristan Acker


Updated: Apr 22, 2020

photo by the Dirtbag

I think Phantom Thrett has had visions of what time really is, in my view in the tradition of many countercultural shamans, and he had to take extra special care to craft this message for the benefit of the species.

Phantom’s vocal albums have always reminded me of D’Angelo but with this record The Speed of Things he adds a classic rock funhouse mirror-filter to his already adept take on bandcamp-cassette-label-type-“lo-fi”-hip-hop. He just understands music and what made soul, pop, jazz, funk and golden-era hip-hop appealing in the first place. Like I suspect many record store owning recording musicians do, he takes you on a tour of music even through the arc of his own work. His lyrics and raps are increasingly diverse and odd-timed spoken word pieces and you love to see the experimentation. He sticks the landings, it’s not just aimless wandering; this was crafted over time like a whiskey.

When I say classic rock I mean the emotionally resonant choices in chord progressions but the mechanics of what Thrett is doing sound like the best 90’s rap and neo-soul b-sides and alternate universe a-sides you never heard. His deployment of sample is as seamless as his singing choruses from his rap verses. I suspect that once I listen to the album another half-dozen times I’ll grasp that some of the pieces have a conventional structure and others don’t but as I listen with fresh ears it sounds like nothing repeats. It sounds like a roller coaster of rap to break to sample to chorus to new song to new flip to psychedelic hip-hop jam to the next loop or section. It’s thrilling. I’m glad I waited until I had time to take this in – I’d like to see a Magic Schoolbus style animation of a miniaturized Thrett flying throughout his record shop highlighting different vinyls because that’s what this feels like. There are chill moments but this album is less hesitant than his other records to hop into something more upbeat or even tonally aggressive and being this deep into his discography, I appreciate that.

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

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