Quite contrary

Thou shalt not so hastily dismiss Scroobius Pip  
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 16, 2008

RIGHT TO BE WRONG: “The beauty of the Internet is that everyone can share their opinions no matter how wrong they are.”

When third-grade boys have crushes, they often irk and abuse the objects of their erections to mask their affection. The same goes for Pitchfork critics, one of whom is so enamored of “Thou Shalt Always Kill” — the breakout bombshell from Brit-hop poet Scroobius Pip and his producer, Dan le Sac — that he poked their full-length Angles with a pathetic 0.2/10 rating.

“I’m cool with a bad review,” says Pip of his detractor, “but the thing that got me is that it’s not accurate in his pointing out my contradictions — the whole song is filled with contradictions. All the rest is pretty accurate — I can’t flow for shit. But really, I’m very aware that everything on the record is my opinion. If I had the answers, I wouldn’t be making music — I’d be into politics.”

“Kill” is easy to obsess over — it’s the sort of inspired counter-culture anti-anthem that triggers your brain to forward YouTube links. The track, which glides on synthetic xylophonic magic, has Pip unfolding a litany of new rules: “Thou shalt not eat Nestlé products”; “Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music”; “Thou shalt not shake it like a Polaroid picture.”

“You have to understand that these are just insights into my psyche,” Pip adds. “Of course, a lot of people say it’s the worst bit of shit they’ve ever heard, but we’ll never be one of those bands that think it’s an albatross. When I wrote this, I had a fan base of about three people . . . now millions of people have heard us and we’re touring all across the world.”

Before linking with le Sac, and way before he arranged to drop Angles stateside on Providence indie-rap icon Sage Francis’s Strange Famous Records, Pip was merely a ferocious open-mic wit from Essex who dreamed of rhyming over unique sounds. In 2006 he pressed 1000 copies of a solo debut, No Commercial Breaks, but came up significantly short in the backdrop department.

“I just didn’t have anyone to make beats. Everyone thought it was a spoken-word album even though it was supposed to have more of a jazz thing to it. Then I met Dan, who had a much bigger name than me at the time. I had some other opportunities too — one guy had a Def Jux style, and another was like Joey Beats — but then I heard Dan’s stuff and it didn’t sound like anyone else. I didn’t know what the hell it was, so I went with it.”

Angles is stuffed with pop-culture parables and light-handed anecdotes that rarely ring trite; some cuts — “Fixed” and “Letter from God to Man” — are even as amusing as they are peerless. Still, “Kill” is the anomalous resounding moment, a song that few tracks on Angles or any other contemporary hip-hop disc can measure up against. And Pitchfork’s jerk-kneed contrarian just couldn’t admit that his real problem was how Pip’s whole project couldn’t swell his member like that first single.

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