Four sixes, four fists, two rappers and some punchy production that’s equally space age and heavy hitting. It’s my own interpretation here, but the group name is more a reference to solidarity and kinship between rappers P.O.S and Astronautalis than it’s a statement of anger or frustration. The group is built on the fluid, and often laid-back raps of Astronautalis interacting with P.O.S’s forceful yet playful style. While many collaborations play off contrast, Four Fists fits in the Venn diagram between the two artists, complemented perfectly by production that alternates between dramatic and thoughtful beats (“Joe Strummr”) and more confrontational material like “Annihilation.”
While this is something of a side project for two solo artists, it truly feels like a full-formed group. Astronautalis and P.O.S first came together for a 7” in 2013 and, with both living in Minneapolis, have a clear chemistry. They trade off verses through the album, hitting on a variety of topics with overlying themes of maturation, socio-political status, activism and a repeating homage to the late, great Joe Strummer.
6666 isn’t an album of reminiscing tracks, but one of contemplation and the ongoing search for answers. It’s about life’s challenges and getting through them. One example of the tone is “Fjortis,” which takes on youthful rebellion and pent up frustration/confusion. In another case, the closeout “Unjinxed” latches onto that alienation and reframes it from their current perspective. Fittingly, the more contemplative tracks have slower, softer beats that follow the punk template of an emphasis on the big moments: storytelling to lay a foundation and using a big hitting line here and there to accentuate the point. It’s personal, emotional, and reaching beyond artist to a larger purpose. “Joe Strummr” has a looking-to-the stars tone as the artists consider the role of activism versus day-to-day living.
It’s not all laid back vibes, though. “Bobby Hill” is a heavy hitter, and “Sid Vishis” shows off the power of handing off the mic at just the right time. “Dork Court” is a fun banger to lighten the mood and to keep the head bopping amid some of the deeper thoughts. Opener “Nobody’s Biz” really masters all the styles in a single song, setting the tone for what follows. While it hits on topics from teenage vandalism, to goofing around with friends, to racism, it’s ultimately a record about the ongoing journey of finding one’s place and purpose in a chaotic society.
This is a really smooth-flowing album that hits different emotions without getting stagnant or digging too deep on a single abstract idea. It’s at its best when the production leans a hair more aggressive, maximizing stereo effects and with a heavy dose of reverb, switching tones in tandem with the vocal changeups between the two rappers.
7.5 / 10
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