It is rare that two acclaimed solo artists, each just reaching their creative prime, come together to create something completely new. Nevertheless, two of NYC’s most innovative MCs, billy woods and Elucid, have joined forces as Armand Hammer. Backwoodz Studioz is proud to announce that on October 22nd, 2013 we will release their visionary debut LP entitled RACE MUSIC.
RACE MUSIC comes at the end of what has already been a productive year for Armand Hammer members individually–each of them separately out one-rapper, one-producer albums. In the spring, Elucid drew rave reviews for his commanding lyrical performance as one half of Cult Favorite, on the uber-underground, vinyl-only release For Madmen Only. billy woods dropped Dour Candy, a collaboration with producer Blockhead (Def Jux, Ninja Tune), over the summer, garnering critical acclaim from all corners, including media outlets like the L.A. Times, Pitchfork, Vice and The Needle Drop.
Although Elucid and woods appeared on each other’s solo albums in 2013, the roots of their collaboration goes back several years. After they both appeared on the same compilation in 2011, woods sought Elucid out for a guest verse on his long-awaited solo History Will Absolve Me. “I was really impressed by Elucid’s music but once we started working together I realized I was dealing with a rare talent,” woods explains. “It’s a real challenge not to be outshined on tracks with him, but that is something that I welcome as an artist. Steel sharpens steel.”
Those early sessions would lay the groundwork not only for Armand Hammer but also a lasting friendship between the two MCs. This familiarity was integral to making an album as layered as RACE MUSIC, especially for Elucid who had never worked on a full project with another rapper. “It was a very comfortable process recording in my home studio when I wanted to. We’d pick beats and sometimes discuss concepts and sometimes not,“ Elucid says. “We’d lay verses individually, and running off the excitement of what the other person did, we’d add on and finish songs that way.”
Conceptually, Armand Hammer use the RACE MUSIC title as a jumping off point for engaging what Elucid calls “conflicts and interactions among Black people.” Cerebral, gutter, intense–the end result is an uncompromising tour-de-force that sounds like nothing else in rap music today. Two of the most vital voices in the genre are joined by handpicked rap iconoclasts in Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle and Creature. The production on RACE MUSIC is, fittingly, a collaborative effort, with beats from Blue Sky Black Death, Willie Green, Steel Tipped Dove, Marmaduke, dosg4w, Messiah Musik and others.