All musicians derive influence from an artist that has preceded them (unless you're like, Mr Bungle, because I don't think anyone can claim responsibility for inspiring that one). When paying homage to those who have influenced you, there’s a tendency to lean upon the age old concept of "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." In some cases, musicians adhere to this so heavily that the final result is nothing more than a glorified cover band. That’s not to say that success can't been found in the blatant ripping-off of your idols: it's been almost 20-years since Muse began their career as a Radiohead tribute act, and only two years ago 'Fireflies' by The Postal Service Owl City became the 20th most downloaded song of all time.

Forging a career through imitation can be especially rewarding when the artist who inspires you are themselves unknown. I imagine only a meager percentage of Tyler, The Creator’s one million (and rising) Twitter followers are aware that Necro has had a penchant for abusive and sexually depraved rap lyrics since 1998.

When Death Grips arrived on the scene last year, bringing a "brand new" level of complexity to hip-hop and earning rave reviews across the board, there was one community of fans who were already more than familiar with the genre…

B L A C K I E (also known as B L A C K I E… All Caps With Spaces) has been championing the punk / hip-hop crossover, supposedly heralded by Death Grips, since early 2005. The similarity in sound between the two acts cannot be ignored, however, it seems that until now B L A C K I E himself has been.

B L A C K I E - 'Warchild':

Death Grips - 'Guillotine':

While the past six months have seen Death Grips sign with LA Reid and soften (if only slightly) for a second release, B L A C K I E has been slogging his guts out harder than ever. GEN, his latest offering on Tooth Records, sees the artist's most groundbreaking and downright punk move yet… an acoustic album. 

By stripping back the overbearing wall of noise which usually dominates his style, you're confronted with the basics: B L A C K I E's guttural voice, and his domineering lyricism. The stark confrontation can be unsettling at times; surprisingly, removing the brutal assault of feedback from the mix only serves to heighten B L A C K I E's formidability. Not that he's in the business of making friends here, this is notably the only live act I've ever seen cause actual distress to their audience. Hey, it worked for GG Allin, right?

At the time of writing this review, I can honestly say that nothing else exists to occupy a similar musical space to B L A C K I E's fifth release. Individuality is short-lived though, chances are something will appear in the near future and will undeservedly receive more recognition.

Pick up a copy of B L A C K I E's GEN here.