When most of us nerds think of Swamp Thing, the DC Comics humanoid/plant creature elemental with the memories of scientist Alec Holland who was created by Len Wein and re-invented by Alan Moore comes to mind. Especially now, since the current run of the series by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette is some of the best that DC has had to offer in it’s New 52. But there is another Swamp Thing out there that’s making the rounds as a Toronto-based rap crew who have a predilection towards the Exploitation films and low budget horror flicks of our childhood. They recently came to my attention just before Halloween when I was asked to write a few words about their CD release party held on October 26th to promote their first full album, Creature Feature. Inspired by “good rap and bad b-movies”, Swamp Thing is made up of Timbuktu, Chokeules and Savillion, and their album focuses on their favourite genre, horror, paying tribute to some of the biggest and badest monsters and creatures from the big screen. I will admit that a couple of weeks back, I had never heard of any of these performers. But the album’s concept intrigued me so I was more than happy to take a listen.
The album’s first couple of tracks are pretty much what you’d expect to hear from a regular hip hop album. There was nothing really standing out for me until I got to 8-Track, the third song on the disc. The song is a celebration of the Blacksploitation era. With a sincere adulation, the guys name drop Dolemite. They reference Marvin Gaye tunes. There’s even a line proclaiming that the hero of the song “packs an oozie that’s a family heirloom.” It is an exciting jam that I believe Sweetback and Shaft would be proud of. This song is dripping with love for the source material. And that love continues through the rest of the tracks on the album.
Time Machine Masacre deals with the classic sci-fi trope of Time Travel, referencing great works of fiction like H.G. Well’s The Time Machine and Back to the Future and not so great one’s like The Butterfly Effect. First Contact (featuring More or Les) sports a great R+B riff throughout this track that recounts a fight amongst the stars with alien forces. All about the Brains fills the Zombie quota for this disc, backing up the rhymes with some two-note synthesizer that brings John Carpenter to mind. Speaking of Carpenter, there’s a song about him as well featuring the Word Burglar and name checking a plethora of his classic films, including They Live, Big Trouble in Little China, Vampires, Halloween, The Thing, Ghosts of Mars, Escape from New York and more.
One of my favourite tracks would have to be Never Return. It’s an amalgam of awesome as it mixes the origins of Dark Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Fly and even references the classic sixties tune, Turn, Turn, Turn in the corus. All layed over a girl’s whispy, wordless singing that brings a latin vibe to the song. Not only that, but there’s also a tip of the hat to the G.I.Joe villain Zartan as well. The album ends off with the title track and is packed with several special guests all rapping about some of their favourite Creatures. From The Creature from the Black Lagoon to Godzilla, from Frankenstein’s Monster to Jaws, all the mosters and mystical entities are covered. It’s a strong ending for a equally strong album filled with more homages to pop culture than I thought possible.
As a fan of genre material and also Hip Hop that tries to do something different, I recommend you check out Swamp Thing’s Creature Feature. If you’re into horror, no matter how specific, whether you only like zombies or werewolves or vampires (and we’re talking real vampires here. None of that sparkly shit), there’s at least one track on this album that’s meant for you. Pick up the album for under 10 bucks from Hand’solo Records.
And check out the video below. It’s for their first single off the album, 123. While this track is not really my favourite and is the most generic of the bunch, I understand the desire to make it the first single as it introduces us to each member of Swamp Thing. The video, directed by Daniel Jardine , does a great job of displaying the group’s fun loving and somewhat nerdy personalities that are further explored throughout the album. Give it a watch for some fun.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!