Fresh Prince of Darkness

Fresh Prince of Darkness

-Album Reviewed by Jacob Kresovich

‘Mic Terror’ of Chicago’s ‘Treated Crew’ hip-hop collective released his debut LP, Fresh Prince of Darkness, on March 4, 2014.  Coming off the ‘Closed Sessions’ label out of his hometown, he delivers an album that stays true to Chicago’s drill scene, but also offers more imaginative lyrics and creative flow than expected in the genre born out of the Windy City. Mic goes so far as to  include samples throughout his tracks from movies like “Network” and “Don’t be a Menace to South Central.”  It should be no surprise Mic is rising to the top of the Chicago hip-hop scene; Treated Crew was rated by Complex Magazine as one of Chicago’s top ten new rappers to look out for all the way back in 2012.

An intro track featuring an auto-tuned voice introduces the country to the increasingly popular Chicago style of hip-hop, “drill.” Next, Mic’s second song ‘Tourette Syndrome’ confronts the listener with a powerful ballad. Mic’s flow and lyricism are refreshing, his voice commanding. Sticking to topics common in drill—drugs, money and sex—he also tells listeners of his upbringing and how difficult it is to make it in the music industry. The emotion is palpable. There is no pressing stop.

A sample from the film “The Last Boy Scout,” leads the listener into the single of the album, ’15 Minutes.’ Again, Mic stays true to the common hip-hop topics of drugs and sex, opening the song with the lyrics “Pocket full of magnums, bitches on my phone… Gimme 15 minutes, I’ll be knocking at ‘cha door.” Mic’s first verse shows his lyrical creativity by shouting out other Treated Crew members as a lot of people’s “ticket out da hood,” imaginatively referring to them in Hollywood, playing in a band, or just chilling on “the damn machine gun.” The beat for ’15 Minutes’ deserves particular attention as it transports the feeling of the album to a slasher-style horror film without forgetting the essential components of drill.

In a move that shows this hip-hop collective is serious about their music and willing to go the extra mile, an accompanying film noir-style music video enhances the track’s experience for Treated Crew and Mic’s fans. The video, directed by Andrew Zeiter and Bryan Lamb, begins with a car pulling up to Lake Michigan on a cold night to dispose of a fresh body. We could be on the set of one of John Carpenter’s Halloween films; horror rhythms are in the air. In a nod to the slasher-feel of the beat, a member of Treated Crew pulls out a machete and offers to chop the stiff up although the proposition of the idea feels more satirical and facetious than it is serious. Once the body is tossed in the lake, the video reveals that what the viewer has witnessed is, in fact, a scene from a film that a couple is watching together on TV. The man seated on the couch impatiently calls his girlfriend who is in the other room. After failing to describe what she has missed, he presses rewind so she can catch up.

At this point the video replays in rapid sequence, quickly arriving at previously unseen footage. Seated in the front seat of a wide car, cruising down a snowy Milwaukee Ave, Mic raps the chorus and first lines of the song. By the time he gets to his second verse, the video has rewound to the scene preceding the intro, where the actors in the film are seen wrapping up their freshly murdered victim for transport. As Mic works his way through the track, the reason and method for the murder is revealed to viewers.

The rest of Fresh Prince of Darkness stays true to the themes and sounds of drill presented in the earlier songs of the album. Of note, ‘N.W.G’ focuses more on the violent aspects of living in the city but Mic uses this theme to smooth the album’s flow, at times delivering rhymes faster and with more firepower than the weapons for which Chicagoans are notorious.

With music and video performances every bit as engaging as those being produced by mainstream rappers, it’s clear Mic Terror and the rest of Treated Crew are about to break onto the national scene.  Chicago’s hip-hop style has evolved considerably since the days of conscious rappers like Common and Twista.  The change has opened the door for new and talented artists to burst through and it is only a matter of time before these names are known coast-to-coast.


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