Vulgarity delivered with nonchalance seems to be Father’s modus operandi. In the past, the Atlanta rapper (and founder of oddball hip-hop label Awful Records) has rapped about mass shootings, obscene erotic encounters, and even suicide—but always with such casualness that it can be difficult to even notice. His most recent single, “Hands,” is no different. The subject matter is exceedingly violent. The majority of Father’s two verses is spent issuing a warning to any who choose to get in his way: “We got them .45’s, them .38’s, and some shotgun shells/And if you see, you better shoot to kill/’Cause I would rather go to Hell than to go to jail.” But reading the lyrics is an entirely different experience than hearing Father spit them. His smooth, almost monotone flow is hypnotizing as it glides over the hard-hitting beat. One can easily get lost in it. The apathetic way in which he delivers these violent, threatening lines is so unexpected that it’s somewhat jarring. This, in addition to the playful, gameboy-esque melodies from producer Meltycanon, leaves us with a strange juxtaposition of whimsicality and crudeness. This dichotomy is one which Father explores often, and it’s a large part of what makes him so unique.
Father has little interest in precedent. Growing up he never had much interest in music; most of his attention was devoted to comic books and cartoons. Thus his influences are primarily non-musical, which is apparent when listening to his music. He must be drawing influence from other sources because there is no other music that sounds like Father. Ultimately, though, the uniqueness of his sound primarily comes from his commitment to individuality, and to expressing that individuality regardless of how it might be perceived. This is part of Father’s allure: he isn’t trying to sound cool, which in turn is what makes him so cool. “Hands” could be a big braggadocian statement, declaring his willingness to fight anyone who messes with him. But those aggressive, combative lines are delivered in such a deadpan manner, and over a beat featuring what sounds like a toy xylophone, that one is forced to wonder how much is serious and how much is tongue-in-cheek. This is a line which Father tends to toe often; he seems to thrive in this gray area between sincerity and absurdity.
To accentuate the absurdity of “Hands,” after two minutes of mock-intimidation, Father closes the song with 15 lines of what is essentially nonsensical free-association. His masterful flow is in full effect as he spews, “I’m the man, I’m a scam, I’m a brand/Lil Honda, Benihana, Jane Fonda/Corporation, Mitsubishi, Sony Pictures.” It’s almost as if he wants to show us that he is in on the joke. That he knows the song is ridiculous, but also that he knows that he is talented enough to do whatever he wants and make it sound good. “Hands” is in the same vein as the bulk of Father’s previous work. It isn’t bringing too many new elements to the table. That being said, he hasn’t lost any of the charm which brought him to fame in the first place, and he shows no signs of losing it anytime soon.
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