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Review: Nostrum Grocers Explore the Freedom of Rapping for Rap’s Sake

The duo’s new album inhabits an underground removed from the posturing and indulgence afflicting the hip-hop mainstream

Milo and Elucid, the two rappers behind this project, excel at the Bandcamp-financed model of crusty, elliptical beat loops and abstract, literate lyrics. Elucid’s style recalls New York’s super-scientific early-aughts glory days, while Milo is a reincarnation of the Los Angeles underground’s noodling, jazzy jabberwockies (although he now lives in Maine). But as a small slice of “black brilliance,” as Milo puts it, Nostrum Grocers is hardly a nostalgia project. Instead, it reveals an underground far removed from the opiate indulgence and macho toxicity afflicting mainstream rap in 2018. Tracks like “Where’ing Those Flowers” and “’98 Gewher” travel on a different kind of planetary logic, borrowed from a place where Elucid can talk shit and elliptically make boasts like “I’m a hex-breaker for hire,” while Milo frets over life as a new father and budding music entrepreneur. The freedom of rapping for rap’s sake, without the pressure of generating fake streaming hits and corny viral memes, is the point of this exercise in late-night, basement-style philosophizing.

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