L.A.'s ethemadassassin has ruled over South-Western California's sonic dominions by complying Hip-hop productions with a very particular aesthetic, distinguishing itself from all others by way of a deep-entrenched uniform gangsta Emcee grace about him. It's the soundtrack of longspun midnights and nighttime meanderings on the shady corner-block of South-central, with a sonic backdrop bespoke-tailored by a hustler laboring over graphic versifications, potent in their ability in securing his own devices from the "Bitch," he calls "Life."
As one of the most notorious M.C.s migrating from East-coast to West, and with fifteen years of experience garnishing his name, ethemadassassin has come to embody L.A.'s identity as a focal Music city, donning a grudge large enough to black-out the daylight wavering over his shoulders as he stays out-and-about colluding under dusk and into Midnight. And with his latest album 'Bear Handz 4: Dark Side of The Mountain,' ethemadassassin looks to hunker-down on his materialistic confines for more timeless Hip-hop gangsta rhetoric. A Rapper's voice is the most significant and distinguishing instrument that they possess, and in that same vein, few have one as well-defined as ethemadassassin. His most modern aesthetic—the outcome of collaborating with Swedish boom-bap producer, Twelvebit—divides his style right down the center, somewhere in between the gangster vibe oozing from something like Freddie Gibb's "Alfredo," and an Oldschool Emcee interpretation of Hip-hop's Golden-era.
He's a piquant lyricist with a propensity for storytelling, and his versifying narratives are always tangible and quietly devastating—seldom sounding strained through muffling triplets or slurs. His verbal cadence can transform an ordinary boastful Rap cut into something singular and exceptional, working as the perfect complement to his producer's nostalgia-tinged beats. The librettos ethemadassassin delivers on 'Bear Handz 4: Dark Side of The Mountain' are lucid and clear—howbeit moderately reiterated from time to time—with urban anecdotes diffused over hooking repartees and affluence for sonic picture-painting utilizing gruesome storyline and timeless aesthetic. He conducts himself with the confidence of an Artist who knows they're a veteran Emcee, and consequently, isn't afraid to be straight-up, with a menacing intensity when dropping threatening ruminations in the same ilk on "Stay Paid": "Better pay me before you pay your bills, or you'll wish you danced with the devil before you made those deals." "Stay Paid" floats an ominous-sounding drone of a sinister sample atop a hard-steady beat and sounds like the most conniving confession of anything else on the Record. But then the hot-blooded "Gunsmoke" swoops in around the next corner.
It's "Bear Handz 4's" most engrossing sonic adventure, with a festering beat that teasingly with-holds a sinister bassline in service of an echoing hook that slips back into the void from which it coruscates from after ever resounding mantra-like hook. The raspy lines, "I'd rather risk missing a sale, then eye-ball measurements, cause I don't do deficits, I do definites, no guessing shit, you ain't gotta look to know you in some shit," are provocative. It would be silly to assume anything else—his thug-garnished attitude stands out like an aching soar amidst the muted mimicked adlibs populating the super-charged air surrounding this track. And then just as quickly simmers into a down-shifting vibe, within the soft-crooning background strings of the horror-flick inspired "Children of The Night." It's the most potent single from 'Bear Handz 4: Dark Side of The Mountain' with: "children of the night, nocturnal beings, when I come outside I hear Vampires breathing, as I walk amongst the shadows, hiding out of plain sight, children of the night would get it in before daylight," parading as the nighttide Anthem of the decade.
ethemadassassin's 'Bear Handz 4: Dark Side of The Mountain' shouldn't come as a surprise considering the solid effort this Emcee's put behind his last three records, but it's obvious The North Carolina-native has his intentions set to a more corpulent gain setting for the future. Having conquered his first three-halves of The Bear Handz Series, ethemadassassin now solicits more glory from his audience, despite his already intimidating levee over the Rap game to date. And honestly, it deserves the recognition; it's a record that has influences deep-rooted from both the East and West coast sounds of Hip-hop's Golden-era. There are initiatives toward being a wise-dealer with new creative directions, but much of Ethamadassassin's Dark Side Of The Mountain finds healthy landing with every single that springs-by. And the later-half of the playback—including the three highlight singles, "Children Of The Night," "Don't Mix Ya Dishes," and "10," that virtually catapult his sonic venture to new engrossing musical heights. And obviously, the tracks produced by Twelvebit seem to look more forwards and onwards than ever before, while still retaining the thuggish aesthetic behind the LA-based notoriety he produces for.
ethemadassassin has mentioned that this album is meant to be the fourth in a five-part chronicling, and somewhat of an antipasto for his anticipated 'Bear Handz 5: Gram Newton,' produced by Akthentik, with appearances from Supreme Cerebral, Hus Kingpin, and XP The Marxman—set to be a record that would mark another cornerstone in his Bear Handz catalog. Nonetheless, Dark Side of The Mountain renders-up as ominous-sounding as the titled suggested, and then some. Traversing into a fleshier and more introspective level of menacing.
What was the focal narrative behind 'Bear Handz 4: Dark Side of The Mountain,' as a whole? And why did you feel like now was the best time to release that sort of statement?
The focal narrative behind "Dark Side Of The Mountain" was to explore "darker" themes of the streets over what most would call "dark" boom-bap beats. I have an odd point of view and I just wanted to paint a gloomy picture with some of the harsh realities of things I've experienced. A lot of emcees make the street life sound glorious, I wanted to show an ugly, dreary, almost hopeless side, but still make it sound dope. I didn't necessarily go into this project with the idea of "the world needs to hear a darker take on this street shit." I heard the first couple tracks Twelvebit sent me and the idea came from the tone of the music. So, this is what I made with it.
What were the most empowering emotions you manifested throughout your Rap performances on "Dark Side of The Mountain"?
Probably the most empowering emotion would be the will to survive, no matter what adversity is in front of you and facing the repercussions that go with it are inevitable. It's not "hope"...it's "I'm going to make it by any means and I'll get my hands dirty in the process."
Do you feel like North Carolina had a significant influence on how the Bear Handz series has turned out thus far? And if so, do you think it had a notable impact over the next-level vibes you've presented on 'Bear Handz 4'?
Yeah. Everything I make reference to are things that happened in North Carolina, which have no other choice but to affect the vibes of the music. But again, Twelvebit sent the tracks and the concept came from the tone of the beats. I just used my experiences there to help paint the picture on his canvases.
If you could give your listeners a few words that would act as a Prologue to the experience they can come to expect from 'Bear Handz 4,' what would you say and why?
Open your ears This isn't a fast listen..this isn't fast food. This is an 11-course meal, and it's designed to be enjoyed over time, so be prepared to listen closely. It's unapologetically street, but there's a champion level of intricate detail and patterns of thinking mixed into the slick wordplay and lyrical craftsmanship that can be easily missed if you're not focused. This is one you smoke to and just vibe out, and give it time and space to take you on a trip. Buckle up and lock your doors.
What sorts of Milestones have you set out from yourself in anticipation of your next two releases, 'Bear Handz 5: Gram Newton,' and the upcoming collaborative EP you've mentioned?
I haven't set what would be called milestones, but the goal is to increase my exposure and get more eyes and ears on the product. I'm looking for my 1000 dedicated fans. In this era of music sales, a part of that is consistently releasing quality music and videos and also showing that my pen game is getting better and better with time. I just take each step I've made and use it to build another step up. So for now, it's getting more listeners, and then provide more merch for fans so they get the full "Bear Handz" experience....all while just making dope shit. Expansion...that's the goal.