Theravada might be the most human rapper. And that might be the highest compliment I’ve ever given. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been on a pretty big Theravada kick: I’d get off lunch at work and spin the opus ‘Xennis Rodman’ front to back, no skips, and be stunned by its polish and scope across nearly 3 hours and 91 tracks. I’ve always struggled to sum up my sentiments towards Theravada, but in light of a recent interview/podcast with Sam Buck, I think I’ve finally got it: Theravada is the most human rapper. As Theravada says in the aforementioned interview, through his music, the listener has a better understanding of who the person, Xen, is through the stage name, Theravada, than nearly any other rapper. That is what makes ‘Strange Voice’ such a powerful release. To me, ‘Strange Voice’ gets at one’s conscience, that voice in your head, a voice which would very well be strange if it wasn’t your own, but on ‘Strange Voice’, we get to hear it.
I want to start my praise of this project with reference to a lyric from track five, ‘Left Field (Change the Channel)’:
“Many hats, but I don’t have a cap for sale”
‘Strange Voice’ is, let me clear my throat, produced, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by, Theravada, a man who wears many hats. Never mind the extraordinary talent one must possess to be able to pull off all these elements in music creation so amazingly, for me, the beauty of this feat is its allowing of no lies to be present without detracting from its own honesty. With no blockers, Xen’s ‘Strange Voice’ speaks directly to us.
Theravada puts up numbers across the board here like it’s a game 7, truly “shooting like Peja when he played for PAOK” back in ’98 – Theravada deserves that Greek League MVP too. But for the sake of time and space, I want to make my sell for this album off the back of the two opening tracks, ‘IcyHot’ and ‘Goodbye, Good Luck’.
‘Strange Voice’ opens in media res with ‘IcyHot’. Upon impact, clashing keys hit your ears like running into a Marcin Gortat screen, creating a perfect assist for chopped vocal embellishments that shift with the pitch and tone of the track. Theravada finds the pocket at every turn, touching the heels of every beat, leaving him wide open to sink threes.
“Better go before you slow up, use it or lose it, they won’t rob you of inertia, imperative to feel the pressure till I’m pushing daises to get paid, shit, low key got me afraid, master of so many trades, it don’t mean shit unless I’m giving you this shit to play, fuck up out my face”
‘IcyHot’ also acts as a J. Will elbow pass to ‘Goodbye, Good Luck’ through meteorological lyrical allusions:
“You talk about the weather, but never watch the clouds or how they move, look around”
Tying beautifully into:
“Watch me turn that rain to sunshine, if ya don’t see me son, then staring at me must have got you blind, all these bright ideas got me feeling light, this is life”
‘Goodbye, Good Luck’ is, and I don’t say this lightly, the best-produced song of the year. I’d normally go full hyperbole and claim it is the best song of the year, full stop, but I’ll reserve myself for now. Similar to ‘IcyHot’, ‘Goodbye, Good Luck’ takes no prisoners, instantly blinding you with plasma synths that Theravada must have taken from Helios. Triumphant percussion holds tempo, echoing in loose bass licks, chopped vocals, and barking sax hits to complete an omnipotent display of production, orchestration, mixing and mastering.
Xen gives Apollo a run for his money across ‘Strange Voice’, it’s as simple as that. Theravada really “flew to the moon to pull the flag off, shit is that real”. This is transcendent level hip-hop and allows us to hear that ‘Strange Voice’ which makes Theravada one of a kind. Support 2000 Ent. and buy ‘Strange Voice’ now, I implore you.