When it comes to fringe hip-hop, it doesn’t really get any more definitive than with YC the Cynic. 2013’s GNK was a perplexing delivery of genre-bending nostalgia trips warped by an anachronistic sound whose instrumentals would have fit snugly during a neo-Harlem Renaissance and whose lyrical content ranged from African royalty and heritage to modern American political turmoil. It was a deft display of musicianship, furthered by the fact that few discussed or considered it. And it’s fitting that YC’s sound can be classified as “Renaissance”-esque, especially now that we’re witnessing the death of YC the Cynic and the rebirth of his new identity, Kemba.
With today being the official release date for The Farewell Tape, a collection of unreleased songs that mark the end of the “YC” era of his career, it seems all the more fitting to finally discuss his most recent (and final) YC single: “Pretty Bodies“. The single marks a distinct change from the GNK sound without straying too far into unfamiliar territory. The lyrical content features YC’s standardly beautiful imagery, opening the track with “Higher, higher take me higher/Heaven ain’t high enough”. The sample has that same “difficult-to-place” sonic quality that gave tracks like “Hvnly” and “The N Word” such innovative bravado. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire delivers a solidly succinct verse in the center before YC takes over once again, closing the track before the final, now familiar female vocals concludingly drift in. It’s a shorter track than anything found on GNK, but it solidifies the artistic integrity that YC illustrated on “The Heaviest Cross”, making it clear that even his leftovers are better than most artists’ final cuts.
– Zach W.