Through the recent efforts of local emcees, including Question and Notes, heads across the globe are slowly starting to take notice of Alamo City hip-hop. San Antonio indie-hip-hop mainstay Ernest Gonzales, aka Theory of Everything, founded his own record label - Exponential - in 2000 and has been producing and releasing challenging music ever since. Exponential’s latest release, the superb compilation Collapsing Culture, raises the stakes for local beatsmiths by embracing electronica to create a down-south version of blip-hop and click-hop.
For Collapsing Culture, Gonzales assembles a diverse crew with varied influences ranging from Buddhism to the boom-bap. The disc opens with “Renascent,” a haunting track by Aether216, aka 21-year-old multimedia artist Diego Chavez. Chavez, who has crafted beats for S.A.’s Lotus Tribe, resurfaces on Collapsing Culture as A.M. Architect with guitarist Daniel Stanush, offering the most promising organic sounds on the album outside of Theory of Everything. Also onboard is Darby, the Labkids collective’s co-founder, who shines on intricate cuts like “Ciudad de Leche” and “Many Colored Days.” Darby’s compositions conjure up ethereal images sparked by science and technology, and it’s somewhat fitting that in addition to producing a pair of albums of his own, Death of a Salesman and Children’s Hell, he’s also scored installation pieces for Philadelphia-based artist Carole Leoffler.
Mnolo, Darby, Viv Vega,
and Theory of Everything
Sat, Jun 17
Ruta Maya River Walk Coffee House
107 E. Martin
Manuel Antonio Escobar, aka Mnolo, rounds out the crew, providing a healthy dose of Central American flavor on tracks including “The Acension” and “Fall From Grace.” The half-Salvadoran, half-Nicaraguan, self-professed “beat smuggler” relies heavily on the drums and serves up a unique style - perhaps a little rawer than that of his cohorts. Ultimately, Collapsing Culture succeeds, thanks to the vision of Gonzales and the strength of the assortment of musical chops he has assembled. The disc offers a stirring snapshot of next-level, underground production that posits a new borough in the San Antonio hip-hop landscape.
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