Artist: Think Twice
Search Term: "Accomplice"
Think Twice is the hip-hop moniker of Canadian producer Phil Kennedy, who possesses obvious talent for pairing heavy rap beats with intelligent, Madlib-style jazz touches that keep things from sounding flat-footed--even in the midst of imposingly weighty lyrical content. On this song, it's not a complaint but actually quite a feat that Kennedy's supple arrangement (the bassline above all) nearly outshines the vocals, because the narrative of "The Accomplice" is so harrowing that it's not correct to say it's gripping or engrossing; the suggestion that it's entertainment almost seems like poor taste. I hope to God the lyrics, by guest MC Coates, are an impressively lived-in character sketch rather than anything autobiographical, but they certainly feel acutely personal--so much so that it's not entirely clear what events transpired that led to the pervasive guilt expressed by the narrator. It sounds to me as though he helped a close female friend pick up some lowlife at a bar, and that scumbag intentionally transmitted HIV to her during sex, but just as you might use ellipses in your own journal in place of expository details you know you needn't remind yourself of, not all the puzzle pieces are here. The point isn't the story anyhow, but the narrator's fixation on his own culpability in his loved one's infection. Rapped with an intense quiver that borders on pleading (similar to Sage Francis at his most compellingly confessional), Coates heaps blame upon himself in a way that seems perfectly authentic rather than artistically calculated. The line "I enabled him to play you like Telly from Kids," for instance, might be a touch on-the-nose, but I find myself constantly processing the plot of my life via comparisons to movies and TV shows, so it does make perfect sense that he'd refer to that film while trying to make sense of what's happened. The difficult emotion of this track is the sort of thing that will halt any activity the listener might be engaged in while it's playing and leave her feeling stunned and a little ill, but it gets under your skin honestly unlike, say, the predictable button-pushing nihilism of Odd Future. (I have now fulfilled the requirement, mandated under the Pitchfork-SXSW Act of 2011, that every music critic weigh in on Odd Future before year's end. Let us never speak of them again.)