Let me start off today with a wish for legendary rhymesayer MF Doom to rest in power. 2020 was, in all honesty, a shitshow. For those who are still standing today, be thankful and live your lives to the fullest.
Today, we’re going to start the year off on a good note, just like we ended 2020 on SOTB with Miss Kam and Ducky Dynamo dropping dope projects. Today’s focus is Score|Swayze. For those who don’t know, Score|Swayze had one of the busiest years I’ve ever seen last year. Between hosting his own interview series, dropping new music and running a successful Smash Bros. tournament, the brother figuratively and literally did it all. And that’s before you get into guest features, promo materials done for others. For my two-most recent releases, Songs For… 2 and Caviar Dreams, I was blessed with one of each–a guest verse for S4 2 and a promo video for CD. This isn’t about me though. For Swayze, we got a taste of what his 2021 would offer with “Batmane Beyond,” a nerdy-but-gruff scorcher that found its way onto today’s Telepathy Club release.
I had the change to peep the project early, but I’m sharing my thoughts with you today, per a verbal “avoid spoilers” agreement with Swayze. Since I’m not the type to spoil a good time (or a great album), I obliged.
Telepathy Club is an unfiltered, amazing collective effort between Swayze and BenJamin Banger, something that dates back to their beginning-of-Startier days. This one’s been in the works for a while. In some ways, it reminds me of the old True and SOTB projects (for instance, 2012’s DOA).
That is, Banger plays the producer for most of the ride while Swayze drops the bars on many of the tracks. The chemistry here is the stuff of legends, as they know what the other wants and needs on any single track. Let me tell you: the Mob Psycho 100 comparisons don’t end with the title or the cover art. First, if you’ve never seen Mob Psycho 100, do so. It’s probably the superior title out of ONE’s more-well-known creations, at least to me. Second, before I get too hopped up on anime, this one is a definite must-listen. Score|Swayze has been long thought of as a bit of an underdog, a guy who’ll put everyone ahead of himself and a creative who’ll give everything to his craft in order to:
- Create something that he belongs to
- Create somewhere he belongs and
- Showcase his friends and fellow creatives.
We can look at his Inside the Rapper’s Studio series as a prime example. The focus is on others’ works and journeys versus just his (very capable) hosting abilities.
With that in mind, they way we see Swayze and BenJamin go off on this project? In a few words, it’s incredible and it’s just like watching Mob snap–minus the mental anguish that goes along with Mob losing his collective shit throughout the series. From the intro to the outro, we get 10 tracks of punchlines, bass-heavy production and head-turning lyricism. It’s like what we got off of LOVE! A Double Feature mixed with the heavy Griselda-esque production BenJamin can do and do as well as the best of them. It’s, to nerd out one more time and paraphrase Vince McMahon, “incredible shit, pal.”
The best part of this one is that, like everything Swayze has done over the past year-plus of work, it incorporates some of the best and brightest to record from the Baltimore area. From his Finago Park cohort to some of the artists featured in Saturday Night Smash (such as BethBanger) and ITRS (there’s even a Ducky Dynamo chop session on “Rubberband Mane”), TC is a sight to behold. Swayze, on many occasions, raps his ass off. From the intro to the outro, Swayze and BenJamin give us bars and lyricism for days. However, the project doesn’t get stuck on just one facet of rapping. The duo also knows when to let the #BARS take a backseat to just riding the beat and creating a mood. Sometimes, like with the Ducky-scratched “Rubberband Mane,” Swayze does both, using his bars to create more than just a showcase of skill. That says a lot when some of your strongest showcases of your rapping ability aren’t just about your rapping ability. It also says a lot about you when your most-recent work is definitively your best work–especially when Swayze has the catalogue he does.
I’ve talked with Planet and Valentino about Swayze’s versatility throughout the years. It feels as if everything’s coming full-circle on Telepathy Club, as Swayze and BenJamin Banger created the project that feels like the one they were born to make. Not a second goes wasted or unrealized, regardless of how many times I ran this one back. Meanwhile, from where I stand, it’s as close as classic as you can get without having the age of a typical classic. This is going to be one hell of a year musically, if we’re getting hits right out the gate like this one and yesterday’s Tew-Faced from fellow Baltimore rhymesayer Miss Kam. Check it out above and remember to support dope music in all its forms.
The duo of Score|Swayze and BenJamin Banger create one hell of an opening to 2021.