Reviews Swordplay Cellars and Attics

Swordplay

Cellars and Attics

When I first met Swordplay I was, for argument’s sake, half-sober. As the night wore on, I was far from it. Swordplay, real name Isaac, was not, much to his dismay. The culprit was a broken arm and the subsequent bottle of Percocet, not the greatest thing to mix with alcohol unless you want a second broken arm. Isaac and I talked a little bit about Richmond and D.C., and ended up rapping one of his songs in the kitchen of the house we were at, yours truly forgetting the majority of the chorus. This was my introduction to Swordplay, with Cellars and Attics feeling like a one-way follow up to our meeting.

Cellars and Attics is a drug induced, Richmond inspired, sexually driven album by another under appreciated rapper that blends poetry with homemade hooks and beats, rapping with a tongue that drips whit and intensity. Swordplay’s words are distinct, but he approaches things like a developing Astronautalis, able to blur the lines between genres at will but still never losing hold of the main point. Cellars and Attics doesn’t take itself seriously throughout, with songs about dropping acid before going to Legoland, but it’s also brutally honest and sorrowful, Swordplay recalling feeling like a teenager, “tapping on the typewriter thinking I have dreams again.”

Backed by insistent bass and level-flaring hooks, “Sellers and Addicts” is when Swordplay begins to unveil his true form, manically rapping about drug addicts and the warzone that they create with their power over the addicted. A few songs later, “Tracing Paper” offers a Southern-inspired twang with Swordplay able to blast through the slow-paced beats without waiting up or looking back.

As much as Cellars and Attics can conjure up images of smoking weed, cigarettes, and hallucinogens, Swordplay is not a burned out stoner, and he’s pissed off at his surroundings to boot. Richmond, with its rich music scene, is also one of the grimmest and decrepit cities on the East Coast, capitol of Virginia and home to VCU and its hipsters. Swordplay looks at disgust at parts of the city and its inhabitants, rapping in “Said Headies,” “I see you bought a VCU jacket and then went off and joined the frat to match it. Well the next time you and your boys decided to call me a ‘faggot,’ you better watch your back and ass while you’re at it.” Despite it’s chorus, “You Know How I Feel” comes off equally as pissed off and desperate, Swordplay promising to, “make this city safe and then shake it till’ it shatters.”

As much as Swordplay is able to see the flaws of others, he realizes he is not perfect, although it’s something to acknowledge rather then fix in his eyes. “Paper Cups,” is sexually soaked, a view into the male psyche, Swordplay brutally honest and unapologetic - “All my life I've been chasing the same women who entertain sacred veins with propane in them. And I never did know if it was ok with them, but I forgot their names right after I came in them.” Cellars and Attics ends with “Saint Etienne,” Swordplay realizing there’s no turning back, accepting of the coming Apocalypse that is occurring every day.

7.0 / 10Cory
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Tor Johnson Records
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2007

7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10

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