Hip hop as a source of esoteric reference

Aside from icons such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and, more recently, Tool, not many bands are well-known for being spiritually radical or esoteric. (Marilyn Manson aside, as I believe his theatrics outweigh his message. Plus, I think he’s been going downhill since Antichrist Superstar.)

The occult isn’t well known for its association to hip hop. And as this site has a large American audience, I wanted to point out that I’ve been noticing more esoteric references in Canadian hip hop than other artists I’ve heard. I’ve been culling a lot of MP3s – both pop and underground – over the years that use themes of revolt (‘Something to Believe In,’ by The Offspring), introspective awareness (‘Right Where It Belongs,’ by NIN), and spiritual themes in general. But today I wanna share some new music with Technoccult’s audience that they may not be aware of:

Swollen Members

A few tracks from the new album by Swollen Members, Black Magic. Sometimes a tricky band to take, especially in light of the mockery that is popular gangster rap in the States, Swollen Members doesn’t take itself too seriously. They’re the genuine article when it comes to the gangster thing, though: bikers and drug runners. (Canada is run by the Hells Angels.) Yet, their lyrics more than often refer to Marvel comics, Dungeons & Dragons, and other silliness. Their tracks are not the most esoteric, but the references paint a picture happily open to interpretation.

k-os, an Ontario b-boy who grew up a Mormon and has apparently been on a spiritual journey since. Jazzy hip hop with great beats and personal, introspective lyrics.

And Sweatshop Union members Kyprios and Innocent Bystanders. Kyprios turned a lot of heads with this spoken word piece on the topic of hatred. Innocent Bystanders wove this New Age rebellion sort of piece that I always like to listen to and have noticed others enjoying, too. Both are signed to Swollen Members’ Battle Axe Records.

MP3s available for download here (compressed to RAR): Part 1, Part 2.

10 Comments

  1. You might want to look in to an artist called Noah23. He is, I believe, out of Hawaii, and his cyphers are deeply occultural.

  2. other hip hop with occult/conspiracy/spiritual themes:

    Scienz of Life
    Non Phixion
    Poor Righteous Teachers
    WU TANG CLAN
    Hieroglyphics
    Rass Kass
    Necro
    Paris

    and many others

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll be checking them out.

  4. There’s always Saul Williams.

  5. also the u.s label anticon is amazing. Dose One is great. and check out Blackalicious, theyre heaps of fun, their rhymes are so tight and they are on to it

    necro is barely occult, hes just downright brutal. not recommended for the faint hearted

    check out http://www.anticon.com

  6. Necro seems a bit cheesy; just checking out an interview with him on The New Music via MuchMusic:

    Saul Williams is pretty sick, gonna check him out further.

    I am quite familiar with Anticon and love their stuff.

    Also, for anyone else interested, I ordered this book by DJ Spooky, Rhythm Science, which is actually published by The MIT Press. Spooky has some pretty deep concepts about media, spirituality, et cetera. Worth a gander.

  7. Necro is totally cheese.

    Thanks for the tips, I’ll be checking them out.

    BTW, there’s a pretty big Key 23 thread about magical hip hop:

    http://www.key23.net/occulture/post/8

  8. Thanks, Klint. I checked it out.

    Ian, thanks again for the Saul Williams referral. Great stuff!

  9. Necro was a member of NonPhixion, but his solo work tends to be more horror-based and misogynistic. NP was the shit, tho.

    As long as Hiero gets a shout out, don’t forget Del tha Funkee Homosapien. His and Dan the Automator’s Deltron 3030 is just inspired, and contains some choice rhymes about revolution and gnosis.

    Also of note would be Dilated Peoples, Kool Keith (and his various identities, like Dr. Octagon and Black Elvis) and MC Lars.

  10. yeah i guess necro really dont belong on this list i was just trying to jot down peeps i could think of in a hurry. I met Saul Williams, he was speaking at a Borders bookstore, really down do earth brotha. Dead Prez is a group that earns major shouts they are mostly political and RBG(revolutionary but gangster) but have some Spiritulesqe songs and martial arts discipline. Killah Preist of the Wu-tang clan has some awesome tracks to on a CD Black August, his track heavy mental the truth. another canadian group Atmoshpere is kinda tight. Gore-tex of non-phixion has a solo cd that has some baphomet looking goat guy on it and a rosicrucian cross, with some darker type occult refrences. check out Immortal Technique on the ultra revolutionary tip his cds are named revolutinary vol 1 and vol 2

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