Some of the best hip-hop and rap music has always come with the strangest tongue-in-cheek references and storytelling, that really makes it stand-out and individualize concepts and a certain style in music. But there is a fine line between charming obscurity and a gimmick, and to balance the ability to still be “serious” artists and have an “odd” image to ones self is something that the rap group CunninLynguists do very well on their mixtape Strange Journey Volume One.
One of the best example of the odd storytelling found on Strange Journey Volume One would be best shown in the track “Nothing But Strangeness” that balances a powerful flow of lyrics with great storytelling, shared between changing vocal dynamics that keeps it fresh and continuously entertaining.
While some songs are like the aforementioned relying on some odd lyrical references and stories that make it more funny then serious (See: “Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)”), some songs are able to remain serious and powerful within the confines of the CunninLynguists world. “Move” and “Inverse” are both songs that feel powerful and grand without ever going over the top, while “Don’t Leave (When The Winter Comes)” is a depressing ballad that shows off their ability to get melancholy and appeal not just to novelty rap listeners looking for a good story and a laugh.
The mixtape nowadays in rap music is a joked about format, something that is filled with tags and lacks quality and originality. While the CunninLynguists are really changing the game in any way they are helping to keep an older style of music fresh. WIth ever-changing vocal dynamics and older styles of flow and lyrical content (not much about chains and cars on this one), they are staying true to themselves while keeping the listener on one strange journey.