by Dan O
The BLKTCHP series is a way for Sankofa and phdbeats to tip their collective hat (they share a hat) at how much fun it was listening to Danzig talk about demons in 1988. Danzig was very serious about the demons they were talking about in 1988. The religious right was very serious about the demons but as kids we just thought this music was very fun. The notion that heavy metal could be as fun as arena rock with a layer of darkness pulled over it was enthralling.
So when I hear the whirring sound start on A Thousand Watches during Sankofa’s spoken intro it transports me back to hearing the herky jerky blues metal melody of Twist of Cain for the first time. How do I know I’m not projecting this theme onto Sankofa? On A Thousand Watches the booming Johnny Cash voice of Fort Wayne says “Crown the beast, claws scratching on the palace floor. Hardened hearts raising phallus’d swords that callous’ s forge.” I’m sure its all very symbolic of something but the 16 year old in him had to think ‘WOW that’s cool’.
It would be a fair criticism to say the JON?DOE verse on Ghosts Start Running does not fit at all. These two have great chemistry if you go back in the Sankofa catalog (check the last song on Legacy Materials). If you compare imagery they are in very different worlds this time around. Sankofa says things in the mood of “only some can eat, others run for crumbs that crumble teeth” and JON?DOE starts his guest spot with “Maybe its wrong but once I introduce your face to my schlong you’ll say it belongs and treat it like your favorite bong.” In the middle of this arena rock lyrically expansive darkness we get a 90’s Eminem flavored verse dumped in. I admit it is jarring but I’ve learned to value its contrast in tone and content.
This isn’t a goofy album. The more you hear it the more you catch. Listen to No time For Highnesses. How many listens did it take you to catch that Rico Wade/Organized Noize line? It’s a fun listen on the surface with vividly rendered hooks and big percussive bounce but underneath that treasure is buried for relistens. It’s fun hearing Sankofa go full shadow battling on Four Percent. They Hope We Never is the most hip hop traditional beat on here. You could hear Mobb Deep on this during the Murda Muzik era. My favorite beat on BLKTCHP2 is Shoutout To Muggs which both looms bleakly and sparkles at the same time. From Shoutout To Muggs all the way through to the end (track 12-Through with The Garbage) we land in a delightfully methodical manner. Fran Gall is the only song that should follow Shoutout To Muggs. The Guitar on Katana Blade Academy reverberates in a brilliantly articulate manner. Sankofa says “I sponge the winds taking it all in.” WHO IS THIS DUDE?! Lyrically poetic, stewing in dark images but with a lot of heart in the authorship of the descriptions. The sadness links his personal demons or societies in a way that only hurts if you have the nerve endings to feel it. Sankofa feels it all.
I remember being old enough to ask my friends if Danzig was actually good. Was it all a joke? Does any of it hold up in the eye of an adult? Most of my inner circle gave a hearty thumbs down. It was dumb. We had dumb fun. I never believed them because I’m stubborn. Listening to I Am Death on BLKTCHP2 it feels good to find someone who can see how alive that mood is. How much creative space it affords you when you build in the darkness.
Purchase BLKTCHP2 below: