The devil isn't just a character for Halloween stories or Bible-thumping preachers. Unless you've lived a very sheltered life, you've probably met a few people whose actions have convinced you that evil is real, not just a construct for comic books and fairy tales. It can be a watershed moment, one that makes you question others' intentions for a long time.
Rapper and spoken-word poet Guante, a.k.a. Madison native Kyle Tran Myhre, doesn't just mention this type of turning point in his new track "This is the Opposite of a Suicide Note," part of a recently released digital mixtape called Don't Be Nice. He shares a manifesto about how he'll keep such a juncture from turning him into a doubter of human agency -- and decency. Laced with haunted-house melodies and terrifically creepy beats, his tale merges the stuff of myths and comics and ghost stories with real-life fightin' spirit.
The song starts with a sample you'd expect to emanate from a zombie-infested graveyard somewhere near the Michigan headquarters of Ghostly International, the record label that's home to spooky hip-hop-meets-IDM artist Dabrye, or perhaps the Minnesota home of electronics whiz Dosh. As it turns out, the sample does come from Minnesota, Minneapolis to be exact, where Guante and his beats-making collaborator Big Cats! now reside.
Despite all the musical goodness the Midwest offers, Guante reports encountering the devil here as well, with "eyes like supernovas, his shoulders the Minneapolis skyline." Though our rapper-protagonist fled the face of evil, he's still haunted by it, suspicious that he's being followed by the hit man of fate. He knows he'll get shot eventually, so his message is urgent; he advises you to "pin it to your chest, sing it under your breath, tattoo it on your children, scrawl it on the fortress."
So what is the message? It has to do with resistance, the kind that's not necessarily peaceful when evil deeds are being committed but patient when friends are slow to lend a hand to the cause. It's also about punching your demons in the kisser each morning and pummeling your doubts about human progress every night. Metaphorical violence breeds spiritual healing and prepares you to wage an even bigger battle -- for your soul. And that's just the prologue.
Listen to an MP3 of "This is the Opposite of a Suicide Note" in the related files at right. More music and spoken word by Guante and Big Cats! are available on Facebook and MySpace, and the entire Don't Be Nice mixtape can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp.
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