This album was released on February 12th this year. Algernon Cornelius is an artist based out of Manchester who I first became familiar with after he had a placement on the first Ruby Yacht album back in 2019. I feel like I’m still more familiar with him as a producer than as a rapper, but all of the singles I’ve heard from him have been super interesting. In fact, I loved the singles for this album so much that it’s actually my most anticipated album of 2021. I listened to his Neither Gloaming Nor Argent compilation from last year, and, even though I didn’t care for every single track, I still ended up enjoying it as a whole. I’m not necessarily expecting this album to be my favorite project of 2021, but I am sure it will be one of the most interesting listening experiences of the year for me. Every track is self-produced.
There aren’t any tracks that I don’t like on this album, so I’ll write about the full project in the proper order of the tracklist. It begins with Maria Chavez.
I believe this is one of the singles I heard prior to hearing the full album. This shit is weird as fuck. I love how he kinda chopped up the opening sample of a speech and rapped over that. His quiet, almost whispered verse sounds really dope. The beat here is super unique and different; it’s not the kinda thing I could just listen to as an instrumental and get a lot of enjoyment out of. I think the fact that he’s rapping over a beat like this is fucking awesome though. His rapping really adds a lot to the song for me. I think his flow is great. If this was just an instrumental I might not care for it, but the way Algernon rocked it was fire. This track is dope as hell. Track 2 is called (We Live Our Lives) In the Dark. This one is really melodic and kind of mesmerizing. It’s super glitchy though. I really wish the lyrics were available on the bandcamp page because it’s kinda hard for me to hear more than one line at a time. The first verse sounds pretty good though, and what I could make out was dope. The production is more of the selling point for me here than it was on the opening track. I think the melodic beat here sounds really fucking good. It’s definitely an acquired taste though. I can definitely see how a less patient listener would think this just sounds like a bunch of garbage spliced together. The heavier percussion that eventually comes in towards the end is a nice touch. The song is really dope overall. It’s followed by Fire.
Once again, the production here sounds very glitchy and almost like a Sound Collage. This beat sounds more like the soundtrack to a safari than the preceding track, which sounded relatively aquatic. It sounds like this track features live instrumentation. This track features additional vocals from Dr. J Konopinski & Black Grandma, but their performances are so distorted that they just sound like additional pieces of the instrumental. This is definitely the least entertaining song up to this point for me, but it’s still just too weird for me to not like it to some extent. This shit is pretty good. Shadows has another melodic beat. It’s still pretty weird in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t think it’s as hard to get into as some of the other tracks. It sounds relatively accessible. I really like Algernon’s expressive performance on this track. The melodic manner in which he delivers certain lines sounds really good. I still can’t really make out all of the lines, but what I can hear sounds really nice.
I don’t need another off day
I don’t need another reason just to stagnate
I been hidin’ in my feelings, but my demons started ringing
Now I know why the caged ones sing
The song is really dope. It’s followed by another one of the singles called The Flood.
The production sounds like something I’d hear in an old cathedral, but in a good way. It reminds me of Inferno from Soul Calibur 2. It’s also got a really fucking cool music video. In fact, all the music videos that I’ve seen from Algernon Cornelius have been awesome. I really love the way he flowed over this beat too. I think he knocked this track outta the park to be honest. The song’s short as fuck, but I don’t even mind the brevity. I think this shit is dope af. It’s followed by Vale / Children. This track features additional production from CLYDE, and it’s really good. The song sounds just as chaotic and threatening as The Flood did in my opinion. The lyrics that I can understand are really dark. At certain points his delivery gets so aggressive and guttural that he sounds like a dragon breathing fire into my ears. Vale transitions into Children pretty smoothly. I don’t know which one I prefer to be honest. I just really love Algernon’s vocal delivery on this track. The production is very good, but it’s honestly Algernon’s rapping that sold me on this track. I think it’s really dope. Anguirus Raids Again has one of the weirdest beats on the whole album, which is saying a lot. The first half is taken up by what sounds like a clip from an old TV show. The beat itself sounds like Algernon took said show and chopped up the soundtrack that plays during an action sequence. It’s a really crazy, glitchy beat, and definitely an acquired taste. Not many rappers would try to rap over something like this, so I’m glad Algernon did it even if I can’t understand every single lyric. This shit is really cool. It’s followed by Bong Dillan. This is a bizarrely smooth and melodic instrumental; it’s easily the most accessible song on the whole project. It sounds really light and pretty, like flower petals or a beach on a nice sunny day. It’s not a particularly unique sounding instrumental, but it’s cool. I think it’s a pretty good beat. It’s followed by Tentative.
The beat on this track is nowhere near as glitchy as a lot of the others. I love how quiet and kind of somber it is. I can kinda make out a lot of what Algernon’s saying better than I can on a lot of the other tracks. However, I’m still not confident enough to transcribe them because I know I would misquote them. I love the way the bass comes in during the melodic hook. Algernon’s flow is a lot more fast paced and aggressive on the second verse. The way the beat kinda evolves during the outro is really fucking cool too. This song is really dope. I Am Not the Moon has another one of the coolest beats on the album. I love how electronic it sounds, and the way Algernon started rapping on it gave me the coveted involuntary head nod. The percussion that comes in makes this a bizarrely catchy track. The hook gets stuck in my head, and I love how aggressively Algernon raps on this track, particularly on the second verse. This is the closest thing to what the kids would refer to as a “banger” on this album. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by Smol World / By Myself. Smol World has another one of the more traditional sounding instrumentals on this album. The first verse from Algernon on this track is really dope. About halfway through the track, there’s this manipulated laugh sound, and it sounds fucking awesome. The samples that come in after the verse are really cool. By Myself has a much darker, more slow-paced, claustrophobic-sounding instrumental. It doesn’t have any rapping, so it feels more like an outro for Smol World than anything. The track is pretty good overall, although not one of my favorites. It’s followed by one of the more abrasive songs on the album, How Good’s the Funeral? The loud production has this kind of discordant sounding melody, but it sounds awesome. Algernon is like, scream-rapping on the first verse, and it sounds pretty good to me. I love the hook on this track. This one gave me another case of the involuntary head nod. The bass that comes in during the hook sounds fucking awesome. This beat is dope as hell. The loud, aggressive rapping from Algernon is awesome. At one point, he starts screaming really heavily, and it sounds like some shit from a Death Metal band. This is definitely the scariest-sounding song on the album. The saxophone that comes in during the outro at the end of the track is fucking insane. This is a major highlight for me just because all the noises that come together sound fucking wild. This shit is dope af. The way Algernon chopped up the samples on Day Without Your Smile is really cool. The beat itself is far from my favorite, but it’s still pretty nice. The song is just over 70 seconds long, so there’s not much going on here. The verse doesn’t really stand out from any of the others on the album, but I enjoyed it. Nothing about this track jumps out at me. I still enjoyed the song as a whole though. This one is pretty good. The penultimate track is called Miraculous Weapons. The production on this track is pretty melodic and almost sentimental sounding. Algernon’s rapping here is pretty awesome to be honest. I still can’t make out everything he’s saying, but what little I can understand sounds pretty beautiful.
Wave goodbye and wipe the tears from your eyes
And if I cry it’s just a sign of the times
I really wish I had the lyrics written out for me because this shit sounds awesome. It’s another highlight for me. I think this shit is dope as hell. The closing song is called Beyond Time.
This is a 20 minute long track, so I expected it to be a pointlessly long instrumental outro, but that’s not the case. I was expecting it to be like the last track from clipping.’s Midcity mixtape. However, it’s actually a really beautiful Rock song that only lasts about 4 and a half minutes long. The remainder of the track is comprised of silence, followed by a hidden outro at the very end, which is cool. I’m personally never gonna sit through the 15 minutes of silence just to get to the outro, but the song itself is really dope to me. I think this shit is great.
This album is great. It just confirms to me that Algernon Cornelius is one of the most interesting artists in Hip Hop right now. If I was a rapper I’d be scrambling to get a beat from him, but I doubt I’d be able to fit his production the way he can. This album has some of the coolest beats I’ve heard all year. Again, it’s definitely an acquired taste, but fans of off-kilter, more experimental Hip Hop will surely appreciate this. My only complaint is that I don’t have the lyrics, but that’s more of a personal problem than an actual issue with the record. Don’t sleep on this album. It’s really goddamn dope.