Epic Beard Men (Sage Francis & B. Dolan) - This Was Supposed To Be Fun (LP - Colored Vinyl)
Pressed on color-in-color Apocalypse Red x Sand Dunes Scorched Earth wax. Includes download card.
This Was Supposed to Be Fun, the debut LP (and second ofﬁcial offering) from EPIC BEARD MEN, is an indie-rap tour de force by two of the underground's ﬁnest; SAGE FRANCIS and B. DOLAN. This album knocks. It parties with disreputable outlaws in truck stops. It blends the classic sounds of breakbeats and timeless drum machines with soul grooves and sub bass. Guitars, violins, and a goddamn brass band have sat in before the party's over. On the vocal side of things, more than a few lyrical heavyweights drop in to take their turn on the mics.
SLUG of ATMOSPHERE joins the gang in some NC-17 fun, as Sage and B. are soulfully backed by BLUE RASPBERRY (Wu-Tang Clan) on the road-noir tale "Pistol Dave". ELIGH of LIVING LEGENDS and South African newcomer YUGEN BLAKROK contribute blistering verses, while New Orleans Bounce legend Vockah Redu, vocalist Kathleen Stubelek of Circle Takes the Square, and San Antonio upstart Worldwide contribute brilliant supporting turns.
Throughout 50 minutes of intricately produced rap music, the duo of storied rapper/poets wander freely and set ﬁres like the latchkey kids they once were. This Was Supposed to Be Fun, but that doesn't mean either emcee has shied away from their signature blend of the personal and political; topics range from the absurd to the unshakably true. EBM are two rap greybeards who aren't afraid to swing freely from dead-serious to wryly hilarious.
“Hedges”, the first single, is a haunting character study in suburban alienation and the collapse of the psychic bonds that used to constitute the great American neighborhood. Sage and B take turns spitting the chorus, like they’re shouting across empty, manicured lawns. “Man Overboard” is the album’s ironic thesis statement, maybe a metaphor for America itself. The topical track isn’t exactly about the VIP Fyre Fest experience, but it’s about that kind of thing: You were sold a bill of goods. You expected a private island, a luxury jet, a view of the beach. Then the skies turned dark. The millionaires took the lifeboats and left. Instead of a sunny lagoon, you got dive-bombed by seagulls, rained on. You paid for Club Paradise; you got Lord of the Flies. The “Sand Dunes” are not a tropical beach or a hip-hop singles cruise, for fuck's sake. They’re the Sand Dunes out in the woods, past the Pet Cemetery. The sketchy kind of unwatched all-ages party spot where rival warlords go to fight.
Hailing from the industrial outskirts of Providence, Rhode Island, both artists are walking hip-hop vaults who ﬁddle with esoteric knowledge over hypnotic, sprawling sample compositions. For well over a decade, no matter how many tours they survived or solo releases they dropped — more than 20 between the two, depending how you count ‘em — the members of this dream team and their DIY Econoline ethic endured a certain outsider status in the rap world. Last year’s debut EP, Season 1, poked fun at that label, while still delivering a sublime buckshot blast of political commentary, interpersonal dispatches, and healthy introspection. Now the joke isn’t so funny anymore.
Epic Beard Men rap and produce like keepers of the ﬂame. They've clearly spent a few thousand hours excavating the crates during the creation of the album, fusing the treasures they've unearthed into the kind of dense hip-hop SONGS you haven’t heard much of since the sample-happy days of De La. TWSTBF is ﬁlled with sharp, satirical, bombastic edutainment, writ large in neon bubble letters for all the world to fuck off to.
This Was Supposed to Be Fun plays like a dark Buddy Comedy gone spectacularly sideways: the mighty Epic Beard Men are back in the barber chair, fuckin’ up your market share. You can’t tell them shit. The chill is gone. The chill was never here.