Album Review | Iceberg Theory & August Fanon – Dispatches from the Kali Yuga

This album was released on December 15th in the year of our lord 2020. Iceberg Theory & August Fanon released some of my favorite music of 2020, and Iceberg Theory pretty much promoted this project as his magnum opus, so I think I’m gonna love this shit. I really wish I had a chance to check this album out before publishing my top 25 albums of 2020 list because I won’t be surprised if this ends up being my favorite album by the duo so far. Iceberg Theory is pretty much one of the most interesting lyricists I’ve familiarized myself with over the past 12 or so months, and I feel like it’s safe to start calling August Fanon a legend for all the amazing work he’s done in the underground scene. If he’s not a legend already he will be one by the time everything’s said and done. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to this.

There aren’t any tracks that I don’t care for on this album, so I’ll write about the full thing in the proper order of the tracklist. The opening song is entitled OneManSunzofMan. This track opens up with a pretty ominous sounding instrumental, and Iceberg Theory pretty much did exactly what I was expecting and hoping he would do. I love the arcane lyricism.

I stand with my feet planted as the universe expands
The simulation program, whole planet stolen land
Time was a river and the flow broke the damn
Isolate the sequence, the potency banned
Let it burn, the flash was still glowin' in the pan
Saw the future like Odin, and I folded my hand
Buried the philosopher's stone in golden sand

The writing had me hooked. I feel like the kinda shit Iceberg Theory raps about is the shit explorers like Nathan Drake would be really interested. I know Nathan Drake wasn’t a real person, but he’s the first person that popped into my head. I just remember him being into a lot of ancient, esoteric shit. I really love the way the beat switches up about halfway through the track. The second beat is even better than the first one in my opinion. It sounds a bit more mystical and I guess humid. I know it’s weird to describe a beat as “humid,” but just trust me on this one. It sounds humid. It makes me think of Planet Namek for some reason. Anyway, I think Iceberg Theory killed this shit. In fact, I was actually a little more impressed by the rapping than by the production, which is saying a lot. I think the song is dope as hell. The following track is a highlight for me entitled Sunyata. The production here is a bit more hard-hitting. It sounds like a jungle in the form of music. I love it. Ice killed this shit too. The hook is really simplistic, but I think it’s pretty cool.

I chose hell 'cause nirvana be the same shit

The guest verse from SKECH185 really pushed this shit to the next level for me. I’ve only really heard that guy on features in the past, so I don’t really have a good idea of what his style is like. However, I was still caught off guard by his performance here. I was not expecting his delivery to be as over the top as it is. I love how aggressive he sounded here. He killed this shit. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight called (Samyaza) He Sees the Name. This track flips the same sample that was used on Smoke by TreaZon. I believe it was also used in a DMX song, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one. It doesn’t matter I guess. Anyway, I like what August did with the sample. The percussion is really what sets it apart. The opening verse from AJ Suede is really great too.

Steel sharpens steel, so I'm swingin' like a cavalier
Not like DJ Vladimir, all my people glad you're here
Daily dose of Dipset, wasn't bumpin' Atmosphere
But the book of Enoch speaks of watchers in our atmosphere

Iceberg Theory somehow ended up holding his own though. I think he had the better verse to be honest. The song’s got a very straightforward structure, so I don’t have much else to say about it. I think the beat is pretty good, and both of the MCs on this track killed it. It’s dope as hell. Track 4 is entitled Number Number Weight Division. This track has my favorite instrumental up to this point on the record. It sounds a lot dreamier and more melodic than any of the others. It makes me think of Kirby for some reason. Iceberg Theory fucking killed that first verse too. His breath control and flow felt more impressive than usual. I really love the cuts between each verse from 8-BZA. That was a really nice touch. Alaska killed the second verse too. I loved that line about stomping dudes out in church shoes. The closing verse from Bloodmoney Perez was the icing on the cake.

Got a mirror in my pocket, a specter in my closet
A body in the backyard, flowers placed for prophets
Nothing's really sacred, we just prayin' to an object
Democracy the new theology, built for profits
Tithes for turning tides that swallow up the optics
The culture's really killing us, there's nothing here to stop it
The end is really infinite, the void is in your sockets

The song does admittedly feel a little long, but the production and writing are so good that I don’t even care. I think the song is dope af. Track 5 is one of my favorite solo tracks on the project. It’s called Dianetic Materialism. The melodic, yet ancient-sounding production from August Fanon is great, and Ice bodied it. He’s pretty much rapping the entire time, and the song is relatively short. The structure is very straightforward, so there wasn’t really much room for error. The verse itself is fantastic.

For many volumes writin’ the same novel
Ashin’ the same J’s inside of the same hovel

It’s one of my favorite songs on the album. I think it’s dope af. It’s followed by yet another major highlight for me called Third Temple Period. I love how Asian this shit sounds. This is one of many beats on the album that sounds like it was made specifically for Iceberg Theory himself. The beats here don’t sound like the same ones that August just gave to Vic Spencer. The vocal sample here sounds like it comes from an 100 year old little Asian woman. It’s really dope. Iceberg Theory fucking killed it too. I think this track has one of his best performances on the whole album. The guest feature from Prynce P is also fantastic. On my first listen of this album, I really thought he sounded a lot like Raekwon. There’s really nothing about the track that I don’t like. I mean, it does end a little abruptly, but that’s just a nitpick. Overall I think the song is dope af. It’s followed by another major highlight called Thirty Tyrants. This is probably the most exciting song in the tracklist for me just because of the features. I love the relatively dark production here too. Iceberg Theory set things off beautifully with the opening verse, and Sleep Sinatra came in right behind him to murder as well.

What's fool's gold to a keepsake
These ideas are too rich for cheapskates
Alchemize precious metals in between the beat break
I heard the truth from a devil, seen lies in an angel's face

The most exciting part of the track for me came in the form of the rare feature from D. Lanham, who slaughtered it. It was just cool to hear him over an August Fanon beat. Overall, this is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I love the dark production, and all three of the verses are top notch. The song is dope af. The following couple tracks are called CreationXNihilo & Droplaugarsona Saga, and they feature Lync Lone & Saga Asad respectively. These songs round out the string of major highlights that occur right in the front half of the album. I think they have two of the best beats on the album, especially Droplaugarsona Saga. The feature from Lync Lone on CreationXNihilo is what makes that song stand out the most to me honestly. This was my first time actually hearing anything from him, and it was a great first impression. The opening verse on this track from Ice is great too. I just think Lync Lone’s voice sounds really nice over the bells in the beat. His flow was smooth as hell too. I even got the coveted involuntary head nod while he was spitting. The production on Droplaugarsona Saga sounds like something that could’ve appeared on Saga Asad’s amazing New Man album. It’s probably my favorite beat on the whole album to be honest. I would love this track even if it was just the instrumental. Ice of course killed the first verse, and Saga Asad’s verse at the end was superb as well.

Stick to the code, follow the guidin' light
Wise words from a troglodyte
I'm not a man, nigga, I'm dynamite
With more brothers than Richard Wright
A black boy get the key to life

It’s easily one of my favorite songs on the album. Both of these tracks are dope af. Track 10 is called Onos T’oolan, and it has one of the darkest beats on the album. It made me think of the theme song for Law & Order for some reason, but that’s neither here nor there. I really like the beat. The whole track is pretty much just one verse from Iceberg Theory. It’s one of the shortest songs on the album, so there isn’t really much going on aside from the actual rapping. He killed this shit though. The rapping is fantastic.

This some shit you might have to rewind
You might have to hit the books to reference half of the lines
You might have to live in your mountains for like half of your life
Hasidic monastery contemplate the passion of Christ

The song is dope as hell. The following track is called Farmer’s Holiday, and it’s got the weirdest beat on the whole album. I still can’t tell whether I think it’s amazing or too all over the place. There’s a lot going on here. All of the different sounds don’t really make clear the most recognizable rhythm. The aforementioned head nod was nowhere in sight when listening to this song. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I do think the beat is pretty mesmerizing just because I notice myself focusing on it, and trying to wrap my head around it. Even when it was being rapped over, I kinda had trouble catching a rhythm. It works though. Iceberg Theory somehow rapped over it really well. Pro Zay managed to find a nice cadence as well. I actually think his gruff voice matches the atmosphere of the production really well. It’s probably the least accessible song on the whole album just because the beat is so fucking weird, but I still fuck with it. It’s a dope track. It transitions really nicely into the following track, Scapulimancy (or Bonecaster). This beat is definitely more melodic and easier to get into. I love Iceberg Theory’s writing here.

Monastery was the room I was reborn in
Woke up to sunshine, it was a cold mornin'
The dew in the grass, it was frostbitten
Burn bones for the auspices, walk with us

I don’t really know how to describe the production. It sounds majestic yet sad at the same time. Iceberg Theory killed it, and I didn’t even mind his singing on the hook. The beat switches up a little after the halfway point and gets more lighthearted sounding. I honestly can’t say which beat I prefer; they’re both really dope. Overall, I think the song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight for me entitled Violets & Honey Remix. The beat here gives me the same feeling that Spread Love by Mick Jenkins does. It just sounds like a warm hug in the form of music. The percussion kinda reminds me of that of Momma by Kendrick Lamar. I’m assuming the sung vocals come from Lamb Rabbit, who sounds pretty good in my opinion. The opening verse from Iceberg Theory is of course really dope. I wasn’t familiar with Paranom before hearing this, but he really killed it. My favorite verse unsurprisingly came from Defcee though. Not only due to his writing, but also just because of how clearly he spits each line. I’m not worried about misquoting him because he enunciated each and every word.

I trap naps with smoke
Snackin' oats
Back in the day, cognac & jokes
Raps and stovetop noodle dinners
Losin' the kindness of a furnace in the most brutal winters
Doin' dishes in a polar vortex
Water hit my hand and turn my knuckles Instagram colors
I winced and ran the hot water wishin' it would stop bein' cold

The song is pretty goddamn long, but aside from that I have nothing to nitpick. The soft, comforting production along with the nice vocals from Lamb Rabbit make it one of the smoother tracks on the project, but the writing from each MC is really what pushes the song to the next level for me. I think the song is dope as hell. It’s followed by yet another highlight, Liber Novus. The beat here sounds like the theme song for a wizard. It just sounds like audible magic. Iceberg Theory killed the first verse.

I pray and the martyrs hear, you couldn't bargain a deal
Darts are concealed, samsãra's a wheel
The last day's hard to reveal like sharpened steel

This song features Lamon Manuel, who sounds really awesome over this beat. There’s a really nice contrast between his voice and that of Iceberg Theory. At first his voice kinda reminded me of Brotha Lynch Hung, but now that I’m thinking about it he sounds more like that guy Pointblank who was featured on Square 1 by Panacea. Anyway, the actual verse from Lamon Manuel is fire. I love how weird it is. The way he ended it with that reference to Mary Mallon was dope. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by a major highlight for me entitled Lord of Moon’s Spawn. This might be my favorite solo track on the album. This beat here is fucking fantastic. I love the horn loop. It sounds so fuckin’ good, mayne. I don’t know where the fuck August Fanon finds these samples, but they’re fucking fantastic. This is the shortest song on the album, so compared to the other tracks, which often exceed 4 minutes in length, it feels like more of an interlude than a full song. I don’t even really care though because what’s here is so well done. Iceberg killed this shit.

People you love will let you down beyond reason
Between flesh and the spirit when body beyond breathin'
Egregious, couldn't even trust my teachers
Dreamed I could wake up in the place where not a single soul could reach

It’s just such a pretty song to me. I have no gripes with it at all. I think it’s dope af. It transitions pretty smoothly into The Shattering of Dragnipur. This track has probably the most upbeat, accessible instrumental on the whole project. Iceberg Theory’s flow is even better here than it is on most of the other songs in my opinion. The second verse is performed by Fatboi Sharif, who also did a nice job. His flow here is completely unique. My favorite verse comes from Tokyo Cigar though. The way he started trading bars with himself as that Demetrius character was really cool.

Demetrius! "What up, youngin'?" I can't cope 
With all these fake dudes tryna sniff up my coke
"Yo it's the D-E-M-E-T-R-I-U-S
Niggas can't fuck with the best!"
Hit 'em in the chest, snatch the cross off his neck
"Claimin' that he blessed, we fed him his death"

The song is dope as hell. The penultimate song is entitled Red Sulphur. This track isn’t really a highlight for me personally, but nothing about it is particularly bad. I just think the intro is a bit longwinded. The song itself is really good though. The beat kinda reminds me of something the RZA might’ve made back in the day, except jazzier and more detailed. I really like the way Iceberg Theory was flowing so aggressively over it too. The song is really dope. It just doesn’t really stand out to me from the rest of the songs that much. The closing track is a major highlight for me called 97 Canibus. It has another one of the prettiest melodic instrumentals on the album, and Iceberg Theory spazzed out over it. I think this was a pretty great way to wrap the project up.

Time tested
The spark, it never left
This excavated esoteric
The message inside the message
Layman but I speak like a cleric, second Vatican

He used the word “ecumenical” at one point on the song, which is awesome. I forgot that word even existed until I heard this song. I went to a catholic school, so that’s the only reason I ever learned that word in the first place. I don’t know why I’m telling y’all this. Anyway, I think the song is dope af, and easily one of the best on the album.

This album is amazing. I think this is definitely the best project I’ve heard from Iceberg Theory, and it’s one of the best albums of 2020. This is quintessential Iceberg Theory. I feel like if you don’t like this album, you probably won’t like anything else he’s done. There’s not a single song here that I don’t think is dope. I’m really struggling to pick just one favorite track. This album is Iceberg Theory & August Fanon operating in peak condition. The beats here are fantastic, and the esoteric lyricism is as good as ever. All the features really came through with great performances as well. I don’t even mind the long length of this project since every second of it is so good. This shit is dope af. Don’t sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Droplaugarsona Saga
Least Favorite Song: Farmer’s Holiday


Grade: A

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