EP Review: Planet Unfaithful – Fatboi Sharif and Roper Williams

The first half-minute of opening track “Christ Corpse” should tell you all you need to know about Fatboi Sharif’s latest release, Planet Unfaithful.  The New Jersey MC’s voice attacks from multiple angles at once, both distorted and cutting against the grain. As he wades with you through the dissonance, slurring his words and exhausting his breath, he seems to speak in tongues. It’s all part of the journey.

Planet Unfaithful pulls woozy, pitch-shifted, keys and Sharif’s unique delivery into an unorthodox yet intoxicating listening experience. Masterfully produced by Roper Williams, the EP draws from the spirit of noise music but clearly through a hip-hop lens.

Armand Hammer’s Elucid features on “Scrabble Board Pieces”, a blaring cut replete with rambling drums and more multidirectional delivery from Sharif. The lack of syncing on the different angles of his vocals gives the listener the feel of a man out of step with himself.  The hazy, almost disorienting beats only further this feeling.

Elucid is not the only feature on the EP. Bruiser Wolf, a member of Detroit’s Bruiser Brigade also features on the standout “Po Pimping Do Or Die”. The jazzy horns provide the most ‘conventional’ instrumental on the EP, but it’s by no means pop-rap. Bruiser Wolf’s voice carves through the track like a shot, a moment of brief clarity in an EP that is shrouded within itself. Wolf and Sharif sit on opposite ends of the scale when it comes to vocal uniqueness, but both play great foils for each other on a track that sounds as if it could have been tailor-made for either one.

The musical landscapes on which Sharif builds is a mirror to his own delivery. Surfing between retro samples and distorted synth warbles, the sounds Williams pulls from are versatile but never slapdash. Much like Sharif’s lyrical constructions, they are methodical even if it may not seem like it on first impression. There are shouts of anguish, vivid imagery of violence and decay, religious undertones (“I shouted for God’s help then shot the sheriff” is a lyrical motif that appears multiple times) and no hooks. What Sharif says he lays on the table in front of you.

Planet Unfaithful is a rewarding listen and much of that comes from deciphering the sonic puzzle. What the pair of Sharif and Williams manages to fit into a package of fewer than 15 minutes seems paradoxically large. Even if the sounds faze you, the willingness from the pair to push sonic boundaries with every opportunity should be celebrated regardless.  

Follow Fatboi Sharif and Roper Williams on Twitter.

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