Into the wild

Yeti take you off the trails
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  May 15, 2014


The Yeti recently released a full-length, Abominable.

How would you feel if they really did pull Bigfoot out of the woods, cuffed and prodded?

You know that’s how it’d be. We humans would hunt and trap him, demanding his compliance. Forget trying to charm the guy.

We’re frightened of wild things. The untamed. Someone actually choosing to live a life completely apart from society, disagreeing entirely with the accepted common wisdom, gives us the willies.

It’s certainly easier to discount aberrant ideas entirely. An abominable snowman? That has to be, as rap trio The Yeti say at the end of “The Question,” “all a crock of shit.”

Doesn’t it?

Talk about things that go bump in the night: The Yeti, who recently released the full-length Abominable, take the album-of-the-year talent of Trails, with producer The Lin and vocalist Syn the Shaman, and tack on Dray Sr., lending a deep-throated and full-bodied delivery in counterpoint to Shaman’s growling angry. It’s a free-swinging, elbow-throwing, and maybe slightly mysterious combination that’s going to be more than welcome to fans of Trails’ work.

Get it? This, Yeti’s work, is off the trail. In the woods and away from the lights. It’s exactly that untamed — and dark — quality that they have to get right to succeed with tracks this aggressive and presumptive, to say the least. Should you see the Wizard behind this kind of material?

Well, it becomes a farce and falls in on itself.

Do these Mainers have it in them to talk murder? To be lurid and provocative? Or does Dray give us a wink-wink with lines like  “And if I wasn’t bustin’ slugs and being a thug, I’d need a hug,” from the quizzical “If I,” over The Lin rocking the MPC to trigger samples with a pop, ahead of the beat.

It’s fair to wonder if all the bombast isn’t really just a suit someone put on to make a grainy movie that might fool a few people. But it’s also fair for Syn the Shaman to retort: “If I gave a fuck, I would show it.”

Which makes the finish of “A Few Footsteps in the Snow,” where Shaman outlines his distaste for most local rappers (this is an important rap-genre trope), ironic: “Yeah it fucking bothers me, so know I’m keeping score.”

As the album incorporates samples from media on abominable snowmen, it becomes ever more clear how Yeti embrace an underdog mentality, setting themselves up as outsiders. Just as the snowman has been driven to the shadows by encroaching society, this kind of turntablism-fueled, hyper-male rap has been ushered out of the mainstream for the time being, as hip hop begins to embrace its middle age.

When Dray in “Sure Footing” talks about hating the local scene and the “cold shoulder” it’s given him, you have to wonder if he’d have it any other way. Being “underground” can be a safe artistic choice: If you don’t get popular, well, you weren’t trying to get popular. So there.

But us-against-the-world can produce great results, too. “Prelude to a Yeti” has some of the most lyrical cutting you’ll hear, like The Lin is speaking with a spitting sneer. Dray crushes some “you” in “FUMH”: “You’re like my fucking appendix/ They said I could live without you.” Syn is expertly and succinctly dismissive in “Murder and Mayhem”: “Fail if you want to/ I’d bail if I was you.”

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