For the first first six months of Captain Murphy‘s seven month existence, we didn’t even know who he was.
Most people thought it unlikely that he would own as many skulls as some of the trippy artwork of him suggested.
Captain Murphy first rumbled into everyone’s ears around July of this year featuring on the Flying Lotus-produced “between friends” featuring OFWGKTA’s Earl for good measure. A dark, jazzy masterwork, it quickly spread accross the blogosphere, only aided by being a free download off the Adult Swim website. The song opens with Earl, but it’s when Captain Murphy comes in mid-line, mid-way through the track that makes your ears prick up. Half animal growl, half pitch-bent nightmare, the lines thunder out, with an impressive flow to match:
I brought a bag of dreams with me, breathe the kundalini in
Exhale the meaning and the feeling of Elysium
Even the reason leavin’ ‘em lost, lyrical boss, harder than most
So kill me, martyrs at most my Holy ghost
- between friends, 3rd verse.
His thirst to rap is something that, in later tracks he’ll bring attention to, as well as his unknown identity:
It’s too bad your favorite rappers ain’t inspired
That’s why a nigga came to light the fire
Now the game is on my Oscar-Mayer
I’m the nigga kids admire, labels trying to sign me
Speculating my identity, good luck you’ll never find me
Even the mixtape itself just couldn’t come out like a normal release, could it? Shrouded in the form of a video, it is 35 minutes of absolutely crazy visuals amid obscure cartoons and tv references. Tracked along with a rather creepy guy trying to indotrinate you into some sort of scientology-esque cult, it makes for a wild watch.
The speculation on who Captain Murphy was did nothing to stem the hype behind his tracks. It couldn’t be a nobody, because the tracks were too good and had collaborators too well known to touch a nobody. People started speculating that it’s Odd Future mate Tyler, Flying Lotus himself in aQusimoto-esque guise, some people even thought it was Zeroh. However with a recent live performance it was confirmed…that it was indeed Stephen Ellison, A.K.A Flying Lotus. So that’s cool. A few days after the tape was made available as a audio download, then as a properly split mixtape with artwork and instrumentals to match. And thus the hysteria somewhat ended.
So is it actually a good listen? If you’re familer with Flying Lotus as an artist, you’ll know he recently released his new album Until the Quiet Comes, an impressive, if exausting at times, insight into the beats going off in his head. Reading the message boards will tell you that some people think it’s better (than Duality), some people think it doesn’t even come close, etc etc. In my opinion, it’s pretty much impossible to compare them. As a mixtape however, Duality is not without it’s flaws. With tunes such as Mighty Morphin Foreskin and Immaculation, and the fact that Flying Lotus is one of the principle members of the Brainfeeder label we know the production talent is there. Yet sometimes Duality just seems a little bit slow, and whilst mixtapes can sometimes feel a little cluttered and overwhelming, Duality can be a little lacking at times. It’s certainly not amongst the longer mixtapes that have come out this year, yet there is plenty of filler. Sometimes it feels like a track or two short, but at others it feels like some of the best hip-hop released this year.
Nevertheless, Duality is an overall success that shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of hip-hop or FlyLo‘s usual woozy electronica. There are some incredible tracks on this release, regardless of whether the project works as a whole or not. So here’s to hoping Mr. Ellison doesn’t make this the last we’ll see of the Captain for a while to come.
Duality is freely available for stream as a video, and for download, on Captain Murphy‘s website: http://www.captainmurphy.xxx/