This album was released on January 31st this year. I’m pretty much going into this album completely blind. I’d never heard of TMFSE until this project was announced. My only prior knowledge of Shape’s work was their feature on Jeff Markey’s latest album, as well as their production on billy woods‘ Western Education Is Forbidden. I love that song, but it’s not really enough to get a good idea of what most of Shape’s production sounds like, ya know? So yeah, this is gonna pretty much be my introduction to both of these artists. The reason I’m checking it out in the first place is because it was released by WATKK, which is quickly becoming one of the most consistently great labels out in my opinion. Based on that, along with some of the song titles, I think I’m gonna really enjoy this record. I actually won’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the better albums of the year.
God fucking damn, this is a heavy ass album. Okay, let’s begin with the first track. It’s entitled Ouroboros, and it’s pretty awesome. The production from Shape is amazing honestly. I love how emotional it sounds. It just sounds really desolate and gloomy. I was a bit thrown off by the way TMFSE’s vocals were recorded on my first listen, but I was able to get acclimated to it pretty quickly. His vocals are really muffled and it kinda sounds like he’s rapping through a phone. Apparently he recorded this project while in rehab, so that’s why it sounds like that. That factoid says a lot about this album. He was clearly in a very dark place when this shit was recorded, and it shows. I love it though. I mean, it’s sad that he had to go through that, but it’s good that he got help, and it’s impressive how he was able to put his whole heart and soul on wax like this. I personally think songs about addiction are really fucking deep and heartbreaking, so as soon as I heard this song I knew I was gonna love this record. The lyricism is absolutely devastating here.
I’m sorry, karma
The track marks in my arms are stardust
I’m sorry, mama
I’m positive that I misquoted those lines, but it can be hard to make out exactly what he’s saying due to the manner in which this track was recorded. I don’t even mind though because I can still decipher most of what’s being said, and it’s some heavy shit. This is what depression sounds like. This might actually be the most depressing album I’ve ever heard, which is saying a lot. Yeah, that’s a big claim, but when you hear it you’ll understand. This shit feels like pure despair in the form of music. It’s insane. I live for this shit honestly.
I wanna get hit by a car, truck, tree
Die in vain with this shame in my vein
Make it okay for me to go away
I'm hopeless here
So sincere right now
Holdin' a beer right now
I don't give a fuck about fucking
I'd rather die if you didn't love me
If I never met you death would have kept me
Why don't you let me?
Everything upsets me
God. Damn. Jesus, bro. I can’t believe how fucking dark this track is. The production matches the lyricism perfectly too. The instrumental is really dramatic and heavy sounding. The minimal percussion is a nice touch too. There’s just a heavy bass drum booming throughout the song, and it adds a layer of gravity to the record in my opinion. Honestly, I loved this song on my first listen of the album, but now I love it even more. I think it’s one of the best songs of the year. It’s dope as fuck. The following track is called Kettle Called. This one actually has a more traditional drum pattern. The hook is really nice too. The actual verses on this track are much easier to hear here. The recording sounds a lot more clear, although the hook still sounds fuzzy. The lyricism about “dope fiend shit” had me hooked, and I really liked the way TMFSE was flowing here.
They out here lightin' drugs
I'm out here fightin' love
Full courts get chewed off
Lit a Newport off a lightning bug
No free hits
That dope fiend shit
I knew a sly brother who had a side hustle
He sold clean piss
Again, I think I misquoted at least one of those lines, but it is what it is. The guitar that comes in during the second verse sounds absolutely fantastic. The closing verse is definitely my favorite part of the song though.
They make cases out of lies
This place is made of fire
Reppin' hate, stuck in section 8
With gated razor wire
Puppets without strings
Grandmas with gout who sling
How are you? I'm out here
Getting tattooed without ink
This is another track that grew on me with repeat listens. I think the heavy production is fantastic, and the lyricism had me hooked. It’s dope as hell. Track 3 is called Kill a Cop for Christ. Once again, I was really hooked by the dark lyricism. I love the hook on this track too.
Kill a cop for Christ
This is not advice
Kill yourself for life
It's been my vice
The way the percussion finally comes in for the second recital of the hook is really nice. The production is just as slow and heavy as the preceding couple of instrumentals, but it’s different enough to prevent things from getting stale. About two minutes into the song, the drums go crazy. There’s a really cool clip of someone pretty much predicting the war on drugs during this part too. This is yet another song that heavily grew on me after repeat listens. I wouldn’t exactly call it a highlight, but I like it a lot more now than I initially did. The song’s dope. Track 4 is a highlight entitled Lovecraft. This shit is tragic.
Mom was a mess of vodka and stress
In our grandparents’ house I felt like a guest
Luckily my brother was the greatest kid
We’d spend all day just playin’ with sticks
They thought I was too young to understand at the age of 6
That my dad played roulette, got AIDS and sick
Every night I’d dream of applause
Where his skin didn’t fall off like leaves in the Fall
My brother took it hardest when they closed the coffin
Took it out on me with punches every so often
It was harder to ponder what was conjured
Or how my mother turned into a monster
In the daytime she was like an angel virgin
But when she drank she was like a different person
I cut myself to see it bleed
She cut her hair and it seemed to be
That no one that pretty could be that mean
Until the night came around like a knife through my sleeve
And I still wake up from nightmares of me
I numb myself so they leave me be
But the drugs that help make me the creep
So I bleed and bleed and bleed and bleed
And yell like hell, but no one hears the screams
Maybe some place else I won’t fear my dreams
The way the drums come in for the second verse is awesome. Again, the production is slow and heavy. It matches the gloomy content really well. I know I didn’t really say much about this track, but that’s just because the lyrics speak for themselves in my opinion. This shit is devastating. I love how fucking sad this is. TMFSE really put his heart into this track. I mean, he put his heart and soul into the whole project, but this feels like one of the heavier moments on the album relatively speaking. I think it’s dope as hell. The next track is called The Hangman Game. This song is almost four minutes long, but it somehow feels shorter to me. In a good way though. This track might have my favorite hook on the whole album honestly.
String me up like the hangman game we used to play
Drink my blood with them fangs used as a blade
Put it in the cup like that drank you used to make
Take my love like what my dad put in his vein
Put me down like you dropped me in the grave
Beat me down like you locked me in a cage
Be my new mom and drop me like a baby
Take my pain like what my pops put in his veins
Man… This shit cuts deep, bro. A project hasn’t gotten me in my feels like this since Siul Hughes’ 2020 album, HUEMAN.
I cried so much that I'm dehydrated
Sweatin' out the fentanyl, my three eyes gave in
Can't believe that all the good ones, and these guys made it?
But if it was up to the old me I wouldn't be alive to say this
“If it was up to the old me I wouldn’t be alive to say this” is officially the most relatable line I’ve heard so far this year. Once again, this is a track that grew on me with repeat listens. I love the way the production builds, and the heartbreaking lyricism had me hooked. This song is dope as hell. It’s followed by the title track, Naked Brunch, which is the only song on the album that I don’t see myself returning to. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a bad song by any means. It’s just not something that I would ever really have the desire to listen to again. I can sit through it without being bothered, but I don’t really get that much enjoyment out of it. There’s no rapping on this track; it’s pretty much just an instrumental with audio clips of what sounds like an old TV show. It feels more like an interlude than a full song, so maybe I shouldn’t judge it as harshly. I don’t know. Again, it’s not a bad track at all, but it just kinda lacks momentum and feels a bit too slow. I do like the instrumental, but not enough to come back to this track. If there was rapping on this song then I’d probably like it more. It’s a decent track overall though. Track 7 is another highlight called Square Wheels. Out of all the instrumentals on this album, this is definitely my favorite. A big part of it has to do with the electric guitar solo from Mark Megaro that kicks the song off. It sounds pretty amazing. On my first listen I thought that this might be another instrumental track because the guitar solo lasts so long, but there’s rapping from TMFSE towards the end of the song. The verse is fantastic. I was hooked by the poetic lyricism.
Spent my welfare check at a three star dive In a forest where the trees all died Made rent selling fairytales In a graveyard that only buries girls Maybe I'm imagining this city I sit in Like remembering a masterpiece I'd never written I bought an umbrella to stop the steel rain Trapped in a hologram with real pain A beautiful girl made from rubber And a wooden boy that loves her A clock whose hands move backwards And a cop who don't shoot black kids
The song is dope as hell. The penultimate track is called All the World’s a Stage. This song has another one of my favorite beats on the project. It’s not quite as heavy and slow as most of the other ones. Shit. This might actually be the best beat on the album. The way it evolves as the song progresses is really cool. The second verse stands out a lot more than the first one in my opinion, but they’re both good.
I'd rather jump a bridge
Rather slit my wrists
Or jump off a building
Than be a normal citizen
I'm a loser
Nothing but not how to shoot up
Get the next shot queued up
Get knocked down to move up
I really fuck with this track. It didn’t totally blow me away like a lot of the other songs, but I still think it’s pretty awesome. There’s nothing about it that I dislike. I think it’s dope. The closing track is a highlight entitled Tompkins Square Heart. Once again, I was hooked by the absolutely tragic lyricism. Damn near every line is quotable to me.
I told her she was pretty
She told me I was silly
I tried to kiss her
She flinched, she said she thought herself more like a sister
You're nothing like my sister, miss
I told her I had to dip
Shot my last two bags and missed
Fell asleep on 2nd Street, pissed
Bliss is a warm syringe
There's never been a bar I couldn't get kicked out of
And I never seen a shooting star over Manhattan
We shared arms and laughter
I used to love her, now she doesn't matter
It's kinda like I died inside
The Lower East Side is wide
No matter how much I try to cry
I'm too high, too dry
Now there's some new guy
So I guess we're meant to last, goodbye
It was a good last hurrah
Who am I?
I can't take the boredom
Can't take my thoughts
Every light fixture or tree seems like a good place to hang myself off
Goddamn, man. This shit is absolutely heartbreaking. I love it. This motherfucker really put all of his soul into this track. Shit. This might be the best song on the album. I don’t know. It’s definitely another one of my favorite songs of the year. I think this shit is amazing. I was enthralled by the devastating lyrics, and the way the production kinda crescendoed after the verse was through was really awesome. Again, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. I live for this shit. I think it’s dope as fuck.
This album is dope as hell. It’s definitely one of the best projects I’ve heard so far this year. The production from Shape is really heavy, melodic, and slow, which may make it difficult for some listeners to get into. I personally love it though. I think it matches the tone of the lyricism perfectly. I wasn’t sure if I would like this project at first just because of the manner in which the vocals are recorded, but I got used to it really quickly. I don’t really listen to any other albums that sound like this at all. This is the heaviest album I’ve heard in a long ass time, and I doubt I’ll hear a more dismal project this year. The lyricism is absolutely tragic. Like I said in the body of this review, I think this might actually be the saddest album I’ve ever heard. I can’t think of anything that comes close. Maybe Earl’s Solace EP, but even that project doesn’t feel as heavy as this. I just love how tragic the lyricism here is. It has me worried about TMFSE though. I hope he’s okay. It’s sad that he had to go through so much shit, but I’m sure this album was a cathartic coping mechanism. This is a special album to me. Next time I’m going through a bout of serious depression, I know this album is gonna come in clutch. I love this shit. Do not sleep on this album just because the recording of the vocals is different. You’ll be missing out on some of the most heartbreaking lyricism I’ve ever heard. Let me know what you think of this project if you’ve heard it. I think it’s really great.
[…] the playlist of my favorite songs from the month of January. Shoutout to TMFSE & Shape for having my favorite album of the month. I usually tell y’all to throw these playlists on […]