Captain Murphy | Duality
Psychotic rapper lunatic, or demented macabre genius?
A couple of months ago, the world was introduced to a mysterious rapper that went by “Captain Murphy”. With his true identity hidden by tampered-with and deepened vocals, he became an instant internet sensation spawning fan theories around the idea that he was a combination of Odd Future rappers Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, and producer Flying Lotus (who Murphy states he worked with multiple times, on his twitter account.
After four single releases, Captain Murphy’s debut mix tape, Duality, released last week and I must say it is quite a debut. Full of trippy beats; deep vocal presence; dark, heavy imagery and symbols, this might be one of the most ambitious rap albums of the year. And the ambition pays off.
Released as a streaming video on Murphy’s site, CaptainMurphy.xxx, Duality acts as an introductory course in setting up your own cult, starting with the song “Do you want to start a cult? With the death of God a new power has to step in and that power could be you.” Instead of a normal track list, the mix tape is separated into eight different lessons that summarize the message of the songs within them. The first lesson, labeled “Hypnotize”, is probably the longest and hardest hitting of the album; songs rely on heavy rotating beats with deep bass and drums that act as the triggering points for hypnosis. Murphy delivers lyrics about tricking the audience with tales of sacrificing virgins in his usual dark style, and speaks of being a higher, impressive being that can control all.
The second lesson “Brainwash” creates a slower, more dream-like atmosphere that showcases the idea of massaging a brain into believing the messages of a cult. Saying something soothing to ease the transfer of knowledge is the third lesson, “Tell people what they want to hear”. This continues the softer trend, but the lyrics become more personal and centered on pop culture as if to get the listener to agree with Captain Murphy. The fourth lesson, “Believe in the occult” is one of the more thematically interesting, as it begins with a somewhat normal track and then the beat becomes dark and almost ominous for a couple of seconds before returning to normal. Towards the latter half of the lesson, Captain Murphy fully embraces this darkness and the song actually becomes a little terrifying. With Murphy’s dark vocals perfectly complimenting the mood and setting of the song, it sounds like he’s reciting an evil chant or ritual from a spell book. The fifth lesson “Treat with the devil” seems to be more personal, with hints by Murphy that he’s not exactly what he’s been proclaiming. It offers a moment of self-reflection by the rapper about his career, clearly trying to relate his tale of fame and wealth to that of Batman, but offers just enough of a twist that it makes a very enjoyable track.
“Sex & drugs always help” is the sixth lesson, and is probably my favorite musically and for the message because of just how pleasing it sounds. The first song samples an older track (based of the vocal quality), but it fits perfectly with the modern-day themes of smoking some marijuana and chilling—a very useful technique of recruitment, using our most basic pleasures: fun and sex. The interlude after the first track (a soothing cabaret type guitar song) introduces the second, which is a fun and drum-full cut that also fits perfectly with the theme of recreational drug use. The seventh track in the section is another interlude about how you should break away from those closest to you and embrace your new cult family (some pretty creepy stuff), and segues into the final section: “Make them feel free”. This eighth lesson is essentially about giving the listener the feeling of freedom through a very open-sounding musical release. It gives you the feeling of just sailing on through life, and talks about everything available to those who join the cult. It ends with a track that’s actually the lyrically darkest on the album as Murphy talks about abusing women, intense drug use, and constant sex alongside a heavy, thick bass/drum combo, adding an extra dose of the macabre to the album which I actually really enjoyed.
Overall this is probably one of the best debut albums I’ve heard from a rap artist. The subject matter and lyrical and visual style fit a semi-new genre that Odd Future may have created, but Captain Murphy seems to have perfected. For the full experience you need to listen to Duality while watching the video accompaniment. It gives the album a dark feeling that is present on the album, but not fully expressed without the visuals. It may not be for the faint of heart, but this is a great rap album and a pleasant experience for fans of Odd Future’s brand of rap, or anyone looking for a breath of fresh air in the genre.
The video for Duality can be found here, and the actual physical and digital release (called the deluxe edition) will be on the 28th of November.