It doesn't even need to be said, but I'll say it anyway: the members of Death By Icon were born on a different planet. The trio has been steadily gaining buzz since dropping their debut album Trybecca at the beginning of last year. Now, they're back for more genre-blending madness on their newest LP, Hassah.
The Chicago artists have managed to hone in on their craft within Chicago's booming Classick Studios (Chris Classick is, in fact, their DJ during live events). They describe their sound as a mixture between Outkast and Animal Collective, and that off-kilter concoction makes so much sense after hearing the lead track, “SaySome”, on Hassah. The vocals transform from gritty and aggressive to haunting and folksy with the flip of a switch. Throughout the ten tracks, lines are said with smiles and hooks are said with snarls.
The features on this project are few and far between and the names contained within are not typical “Chicago hip-hop” features. Instead, they recruit Pia Easley for the opener, a Chicago born songstress who's online presence is nearly non-existent other than a 2008 American Idol audition video, and mask-wearing Deer Emerson for the calming single “Namesake.” The rest of the album is Death By Icon through and through. They work well together as a trio of two vocalists and two producers and it shows.
While Hassah by Death By Icon might not be the most accessible album of 2015 (I expect their fan base to be full of shy weirdos and tattoo artists), it is their unique obscurity that dragged me in last year and has me coming back for more. Hassah does not disappoint. In fact, it does the complete opposite. It sounds unlike anything else coming out of the Windy City (in a good way) and Death By Icon's second LP is an album that needs half a dozen plays before listeners can even begin to wrap their head around the content.
HassaH isn't here to be the most notable recent Chicago release, it's just an organic product from a group that seeks to do nothing but be themselves through their music. If history is any indication, it's the artists that stay true to themselves that enjoy the longest shelf life, and from what I can tell, Death By Icon is doing just that.