Courtesy of Anticon
Why? – The Hollows
Rapper Young Churf, best known for his brief spot in Ratatat’s “Seventeen Years,” is in the song saying: “ I don’t write my stuff anymore — I just kick it from my head.” For avant-garde hip-hop artist Why?, a band that sings about masturbating in museums, gypsies with knives and men fornicating at sporting events, listeners may wonder if the group had to kick all that from its head.
However, lyricist Yoni Wolf’s stream-of-consciousness verses and obscure, personal and often polarizing references are as poignant and delicate as reading a diary. His lyrics are beautifully dressed over poppy instrumentals in Alopecia, Why?’s acclaimed 2008 album.
Why?, originally the stage name for Wolf’s solo work, has evolved into a full band, complete with keyboards, bass and electronics. The group combines elements of indie-rock, hip-hop and even folk with an overtly expressionistic and ceaselessly candid tone. The result sounds like the inner thought processes of an adult male in perpetual puberty — confused about the emotional and bodily changes he is facing.
One instance of this is on “Good Friday,” where Wolf explores notions of death, race and sexual fantasy in a way that is mysteriously dark and unquestionably unique. The song opens with a simple bass line and high hat drums, coupled with Wolf’s drawling vocals.
Throughout many of the songs, Wolf’s tone of voice borders somewhere between bored and pleading, as if unsure if he is passionate, narrative or emphatic with his lyrical storytelling. In tracks such as “Fatalist Palmistry,” Wolf accomplishes a more diverse vocal range through multiple vocal tracks, both melodic and monotonous, layered together.
Yet Why? is never too morbid. It might be overly descriptive and sexually experimental, yet it keeps listeners around with well-placed hooks and attention-grabbing lines.
While Wolf may kick things out of his head that are controversial, confusing and all together strange, Why? retains its edge by keeping their ideas linear, exciting and always in-your-face.
by Asst. Entertainment Editor Geoff Schorkopf