Make Drunk Cool Again – RXK Nephew
This review is not for the faint of heart. I foreword my review with this statement because RXK Nephew makes music that is egregiously alternative – it’s music that sounds so anti-music that it wavers into its own subgenre. At the young age of 27, RXK Nephew’s production has been prolific in the underground hip-hop community. His song “American tterroristt” should be scribbled across the White House until it’s called the Crack House. The music is addictive, but even more so, RXK Nephew has a personality unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He’s the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving who pulls up with two eighths of Hennessy – one for himself and one for the kids’ table. It’s reductive to call the music ignorant; I would go as far to say that RXK Nephew produces some of the most meta-aware music to date. His verses aren’t just rap bars, nor are they necessarily twisted stories like on “Peter Gunnz X2.” His verses are long-winded sprawls of questioning the world; drawn-out questions about the legitimacy of the Bible and Coronavirus. RXK Nephew is one of the few talents that you can be positive came out of the 2020s because he has this knowledge about the material world that might not have even existed 2 months ago. On “American tterroristt,” quotables like “I’m reading the Bible, ‘What is this?’” when thinking about how confusing Adam and Eve’s story is, and yearning questions like “If I need Jesus, then where is Jesus?” remind his listeners of all of the thoughts they themselves have been too timid to ask. Not to say all the lyrics are religious, since he goes on a rant about “Who the fuck is Christopher Colombus?,” explaining that had he returned to his hood in 2020, RXK Nephew would have had him shot. Even the YouTube bio for the song will have you questioning whether or not the music is satire or a side-effect of his oracular worldview. The bio briefly states “#AllFacts #IPoppedABeanForFamousDex #RXK.” RXK Nephew (sometimes known as Rx Nephew) is a prized possession in hip-hop because just like all of the most-beloved artists to come before him, he’s eccentric and weird and unapologetically himself. Think Ol’ Dirty Bastard if he lived to see the internet enter its full-form. It’s raunchy, it’s obscene, and it’s doused in a swimming pool of Nephew’s drink of choice, Hennessy.
Make Drunk Cool Again (stylized as Make Drunk Driving Cool Again on the cover) is one of the 11 projects that RXK Nephew has dropped this year to my knowledge, but it’s easily him at his most fun and most audacious. Bubbly, unlike the Henny that he cannot be found without, the project breathes Hip House. Nephew mixes Latin House with Chicago House to make an album that sounds like the club as soon as he steps in – every song has drenched-808s that let Nephew get as freaky as possible. He divulges into his many pseudonyms, his attempts to find cocaine at the party, trying to find the most good-looking woman at the function, and a unique situation where he’s trying to get higher than high can be. He allegedly has crack on him, grams of cocaine, heroin, and anything you can possibly imagine. It’s hard to understand whether or not it’s a distorted version of reality where he’s so drugged up he truly is doing all of these things, but I wouldn’t put that past Nephew.
The music shouldn’t be taken too seriously. While listening to the album, you can sense elements of horrorcore hidden behind the facade of drug-induced hallucinations. Reminiscent of an early Odd Future, the lyrics are blood-curdling and unhinged; you never know how far he’ll go. On “Peter Gunnz X2,” RXK Nephew introduces the listener to his alter-ego, Slitherman. Slitherman has been notably featured on his other projects, including Slitherman Activated and Slither Conspiracy, but here we listen to a Slitherman who, frankly, wants to see Nephew at his most manic. He bellows out a deep, girthy bark that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. “Slitherman wants to OD. I want the shit that Michael Jackson took. I need that shit Prince died on. I need that shit Whitney was smoking on.” Oddly enough, after hearing some of the most gut-wrenching lyrics of the year, RXK Nephew casually comes back on the mic to nonchalantly say that “Slitherman took over my body,” as if this is a regular occurrence. This is the magic of RXK Nephew; he’s a nihilistic anti-hero whose hedonistic habits you can revel in watching unfold. We don’t know necessarily that any of this is true, but on the off-chance that it is, it’s wildly entertaining. Slitherman forces Nephew to do Molly, but Nephew still has to ask his evil twin, “Slitherman, don’t kill that bitch.” It’s nonsensical; brazen and nonlinear, it’s tough to understand how RXK Nephew can build these other-worldly narratives that are equal-parts hilarious and repulsive, but he makes it work. The lyrics are so bold that you have to give him credit for even saying half of the statements he does, but on top of that, his ability to do this while rapping over beats that force you to move your hips is a feat that very few, if any at all in the game, can make you do.
Songs like “Cuban Plug” and “Wake Up the Dead” are perfect examples of smooth, more traditional hip-house with Latin and disco-inspired beats that showcase his versatility, and essentially, his ability to make any type of song that he chooses. The draw of RXK Nephew is that he can stomp on any beat, whether Southern, Lo-fi, or the most understated loop and can say whatever he’s feeling that day, and it’s still impeccable. It’s impossible to predict RXK Nephew’s next move, but all that we really need to know is that whatever direction he decides to go in, it will be trailblazing like no other.