In our Now Hear This column, we highlight up-and-coming bands that you should be paying attention to. It’s pretty straightforward: we do the thinking, you do the listening. Deal? You’re welcome.
If you don’t know, stream the goddamn track.
I had the pleasure of catching these dudes at the Earl a couple of weeks ago, and my dick was inserted into the dirt. Not knowing anything at all about the outfit prior to going to see them live, I was immediately impressed. The tracks are dark, spacey, ambient and well-assembled. The flows are abstract, articulate, intelligent and weird.
The beats are put together live in a mad scientist manner by Chris Devoe. A solid mixture of pre-recorded synth sounds, samples and various other rhythmic devices cued on the fly via Moog and an Apple notebook. Homeboy looks as if he’s on a different plane of music consciousness whille performing the science experiments that are Social Studies. Mr. Devoe has a tight grip on ebb and flow. Sometimes the music is skeletal with very little instrumentation and percussion. Other times it’s a dope dance beat with many layers of color and dimension that you could not help but nod your head to.
And the ying to Devoe’s yang would be the MC of the group, Zano Bathroom. Hands down my favorite name of all time. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bathroom on several occasions before the show, all the while not having the slightest inkling of what the dude was capable of with language and cadence. Never did he mention he was a musician (which I have infinite respect for), and I came away from those few meetings under the impression that he was a very laid back, unassuming fellow. And I suppose off stage he is. On stage it’s quite a different story. This cat is perhaps the Jekyll and Hyde of Atlanta hip hop. And it fucking rules. With an extensive vocabulary and really obscure pop-culture references, Bathroom had me hypnotized. He’s got a command of the stage and microphone and he’s got some of the wittiest between song banter I’ve heard. Most of what Bathroom does is freestyled. It’s not so much about lyrical content as it is using syllables as a rhythmic instrument. And it’s quite refreshing.
I think what I like most about Social Studies is that they are not what the layman considers Atlanta hip hop. It’s not status driven. It’s not about slinging weed. It’s not “Dirty South” bullshit. It’s fucking art. I like that they play shows in the East Atlanta Village. I like that they fit better on a rock bill. I like that they’d be at home on Definitive Jux. And they deserve it.
Their record is called Proxemics. I demand you purchase it and be educated. You can start the cranium expansion early by streaming “Assignment Two” below. You’re fucking welcome.