I always thought there should be a name for art that brings together an old-timey tune with audio or visuals depicting justified unrest. Consider the Breaking Bad soundtrack—were those songs produced with that narrative in mind? Cheat Codes samples impeccably, cleanly, and with that same powerful dichotomy in mind. This is stark hip-hop that manages, with the tone of its voices, to reach a level of naturalistic storytelling. For all its hard-earned skill, the production could do with being a little looser. The edges have been sanded expertly, catching a tiny fraction of the heart in the manufacturing. Fortunately, the fervent performances and soulful backdrop patch up the wound.
A favourite: ‘Belize’
‘Cheat Codes’ is out now via BMG.