The duo forces people to face reality
2020 has been a wild time for everybody. It has been a year of social change, political tension and a spotlight on social media’s role in both how we use and rely on it. These topics have become themes for many different creatives this year. For the Milwuakee duo Guerrilla Ghost, their time during the stay-at-home order was spent recording and crafting their newest album, We Get What We Deserve. By sonically tying in sounds from hip-hop, screamo, dubstep and more, the two aren’t afraid to voice their opinions about the state of the world.
When one sees the word guerrilla, they think of someone who is willing to fight against a higher power for what they believe in. Instead of going out and physically doing damage, rapper, Bad Graphics Ghost and producer, Tron Jovi use music and words to get out any dislike they have towards the higher influences and power. Bad Graphics Ghost has said, “(From) whatever, I’m feeling in my head about what’s going on in the news, locally, nationally, or personally, I’ll kind of get an idea of what I want the song to be about.” Their words come with heavy drums, bass and synths accompanying them, mimicking subgenres of metal music as it fuses with hip-hop.
The opening track, “The Seventh Level” brings forth thick drums and bass, with a sinister groovy synth and lyrics of motivation for others who want to level up as well. “Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man” comes next and is the first single from the album. The name derives from the 1993 film Demolition Man. The film tells the story of a troubled white cop and a black criminal as both serve time for being bad people. However, there is the back and forth over who is more bad/evil despite them both doing terrible things. In relation to the song, it explores the concept of the movie where “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” So, with all the negative things happening in the world, Ghost questions what is going to be the outcome of it?
“Onlyfans” has the most interesting production as it has a calm atmospheric hip-hop beat with a focus on the synths. Bad Graphics Ghost delivers a quick and speedy flow over the mid-tempo beat. It does a 180 as the pitch in vocals changes to become harsher. Using the website, Onlyfans, as the focus, people hear about how social media has a grip on them and how they continue to view the world. At the end, Ghost is singing the chorus of “Photograph” by J. Cole from his 2018 album, KOD.
“Another Sad Love Song” is a lighter track compared to the ones before it. It’s a lot more electronic and focused on the synths than the weight of a bass or drum. The screaming come towards the end as it almost builds up to this point where he just can’t take it anymore, he just wants to know what went wrong in his relationship. “In Memory Of,” featuring Armstrong Ransome, definitely is the more direct track off of We Get What We Deserve. Here, Guerilla Ghost discusses systemic racism, who plays a role in such a concept and those people lost to it. It begins to feel more powerful once he begins mentioning names like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown who both lost their lives at the hands of police. They consider these victims the ones who people lost that are “waiting up above.”
“The Immigrant Song” is like a part two of the previous track. This eerie and dark track uses metal influences to highlight the pain and aggression towards the system’s treatment towards immigrants. Meanwhile adding a synths in both a drone like fashion and melodic way to balance it out and create a haunting feeling. Kool Keith joins Guerrilla Ghost for “Algorithm Nation 1814.” It serves almost like a reunion as the two acts performed at Riverwest Public House in 2018. Tron Jovi explained that Keith had gotten back immediately when asked about a collaboration. “It’s Keith being Keith. He’s abstract and original, and it really added to the record.” The two distinct rapping styles blend together being tied by a video game-esque production with heavy vocals on the chorus.
“If It Don’t Make Dollars It Don’t Mike Pence” spews opinions on the current officials leading the country, those who support them and even how those who are around one demonstrate similar views. “Wesley Snipes in Jungle Fever” is considered the other “love” song on the track. The title comes from Jungle Fever where Wesley Snipes’ character has an affair with an Italian secretary. A lot nastier than heartbreaking like it’s counterpart, the production is more fun as the dubstep elements really come alive predominately in the chorus. The final track, “Thanks for Coming Out,” features Taiyamo Denku, Katana da Don and Carnage The Executioner and is the longest track off the album. The sinister-sounding synth kicks off the production in a spiraling crescendo effect. The sinister feeling continues throughout with the inclusion of heavier bass synths and a clapping sound. Each verse delivers a different perspective on life that ultimately brought them together as well as issues that they all face in society. It is a great way to end such a sociopolitical themed album.
We Get What We Deserve sums up what 2020 was like. A mix of screaming, headbanging, vibing, social injustice, political unrest and so much more. Nothing seems to make sense and is only feeling like it gets worse as people move through the year. Guerrilla Ghost evokes those feelings while discussing the topics that got people where they are today. The fusion of hip-hop with punk, metal, electronic and dubstep on top of quick flows and eccentric lyricism allows listeners to confront reality in a different way. This album isn’t the light and heartfelt project that many artists might want out during this tough time. It is true to Guerrilla Ghost and is a more accurate reflection of society today.