Even though I already wrote about the apparent nonsense of talking about German albums on English websites, I still stand by the fact that some emotions don’t need to be understood on a lyrical level to be feasible. When you listen to J-Pop for example, even without understanding the lyrics, the emotions of immediate happiness/sadness and others are immediately understandable on melodies and tone of voice alone. And even though, yes, understanding lyrics is an important part of critical analysis, some albums really don’t need that. Which brings me to today’s album by German rapper LGOONY.
Cologne-based Ludwig Langer has been at it for a few years, being affiliated with Germany’s very own trap-rap-parody-label “Glo Up Dinero Gang”, but started gaining traction after releasing his debut “Space Tape” in 2014. Assisted by label-head Why SL Know Plug (formerly simply known as Moneyboy) he put out a collection of songs which were highly inconsistent in rapping abilities, but very enjoyable on production-values alone; fusing cloud-rap sensibilities with trap-beats. Apparently he wasn’t too happy about how this tape was received, opting to work on his rapping abilities, which resulted in the heavily improved “Grape Tape” in 2015. Rapping with way more conviction and showcasing a newfound lyrical skill, he was able to release a tape that thrived on concept rather than sound alone. The tape was a huge critical success, resulting in him headlining a few festivals. Shortly afterwards, he released the joint-project “Aurora” in 2016 with Austrian rapper Crack Ignaz, which was an even bigger success, gaining him comparatively big media-coverage. And so we arrive at his current project, “Intergalactica”, released at the tail-end of 2016, and from the very first song it is very clear that LGOONY now has a clear target.
He wants to fuck shit up.
“Intergalactica”, on the base level, is about him shooting for the stars, getting there, and then proceeding to rip the German rap-scene to absolute shreds. But did he achieve that?
Yes and no. His flows get just a little bit more tame, but on a lyrical level, his punchlines are even more outlandish than before. He goes as far as calling his bumper Atlantis, because it is so low, and apparently wearing chandeliers around his neck. Conceptually, however, things got even more interesting, best signified by songs like Utopia and Blutmond. On Utopia he offers his female companion exactly that, making living with him sounding more ~transcendent~ than ever. Blutmond is a very different beast, talking about the death of a girlfriend, shrouded in obscure wordplay and very vivid imagery. Both songs are also grounded in very moody beats, that sound very spacey, but still have enough sub-bass to bump in the whip. On most of the other songs he usually talks either about surpassing depression or being the most punk and destructive force in German rap. Nothing too original, but his reference-pool is, like I already said, very outlandish and kinda nerdy. Religious and spiritual imagery rams right in the middle of sci-fi and fantasy-literature references. This keeps thing fresh and interesting to listen to, even though technically, no new ground is being covered.
Coming back to the beats on the tape, the real problems begin to show. Even though, yes, this is easily his most cohesive project to date, this also means that the production tends to become a bit repetitive and uneventful. From the 13 tracks on this project, only about 7 stand out beat-wise, which is not a good ratio. You can only hear the same space-y synthesizers and 808s for so long before you crave something new. The best beats on here toy with downtrodden piano; airy, free-floating synths; uplifting pads, and etherial choral arrangements. Heilig and Für Immer, backed by some of the best beats on the tape, are also probably the best songs on the project next to Utopia and Blutmond. Heilig comes through with a gargantuan bassline and chopped, dissonant synths courtesy of Nikki 3K and Karol Tip which just go hard as hell. Für Immer is driven moreso by a pulsating bass-rhythm carried by an instantly catchy piano line, produced by GEE Futuristic and, again, Nikki 3k.
At the end of the day, Intergalactica is a very frustrating listen. LGOONY hits us with some of his best flows, best hooks, best lyrics and most tangible emotions yet, but this is all undermined by some very uninteresting beats that are either boring and have no unique texture to them whatsoever. If you want to check this out, check out the songs I namedropped in the review. Coming back to my point earlier, although he raps in German, his emotions transcend the language, making it very accessible to non-german listeners. But if you want a true, and better, embodiment of this, check out the “Grape Tape”.
All of his projects are available to stream/buy on the bandcamp embedded below.