Tag Archives: Captain Murphy

Captain Murphy - Duality

Over the past week, you’ve probably heard that Captain Murphy is a character/aesthetic developed and executed by the one and only Steven Ellison, known by most as Flying Lotus. Since arriving over the summer with a spat of acerbic, pitch-shifted tracks, Murphy’s identity had been obsessed over, driving more than a few people over the proverbial edge. Now that we all know that Murphy = FlyLo and FlyLo = Murphy, which really isn’t that surprising anyways, the body of work, both visual and audio, released over the past few weeks can be discussed in a tempered fashion.

Duality cannot be viewed as solely an album or mixtape. It is an aesthetic, built out of Adult Swim cartoons, video games, long nights at Low End Theory and bong hits. The 17 track project, or continuous video if you prefer,is brilliantly produced, yet disjointed. As a collective audio/visual project, it is one of the most enveloping releases you’ll encounter all year. Captain Murphy is introduced as rapper, lover, cult leader and supervillain. On the production side of things, FlyLo brought in heavy-hitters Just Blaze, Madlib and TNGHT, as well as Brainfeeder compatriots Jeremiah Jae, Teebs and Samiyam. Earl Sweatshirt, Azizi Gibson and Jae again assist Murphy with delectable bars. It’s a star-studded affair that FlyLo conducts blissfully, verses and beats flowing together into one psychedilia-tinged river.

Flying Lotus’ rapping debut comes as a mixed bag of offhand movie and video game references (Final Fantasy anyone?), standard Rick Ross braggadocio and a surprising amount of juvenile rape and phallus talk. On “Mighty Morphin Foreskin,” the word “niggerdick” is uttered, forcing me to believe Tyler, The Creator influenced Duality in one way or another. Despite its relative shortcomings, Ellison’s heavily pitch-shifted introduction to rap is impressive in its breadth, introducing a fully fleshed-out super villain character. More than just your average megalomaniac, Ellison’s Murphy character is a tortured soul, trapped within his own insane, ritualistic and hedonistic mind.

FlyLo also throws in enough head-scratchers like “learn how to do the dougie with the devil in the moonlight” to keep even the most jaded rap fans invested. That being said, the pitch shifting is jarring at times, taking away from the sublimity of much of the production. Similarly, the constant dick and rape talk is unnecessary, and despite being part of the Captain Murphy character (I guess), is detrimental to the album as a whole.

I knew that there was something fishy when the original list of producers (which included Clams Casino at the time) involved in Duality was released. Could a brand new rapper really pull in such a star-studded list of beatsmiths? Would Madlib really work with some Adult Swim channeling chump? Probably not, but would all of the aforementioned producers jump at the chance to work with Flying Lotus? Absolutely. With FlyLo tying everything together with some skillfully executed cult leader skits and beat transitions, the tape reads like a DMT infused night at Low End Theory.

Heavy on psych-rock with a sprinkle of boom bap and plenty of bruising bass, the TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke and Lunice for those living under a rock) produced “Shake Weight” is the one sonic outlier on the tape. Just Blaze and Jae’s “The Ritual” and FlyLo’s “Between Friends” are the two highlights, seeing both producers at their most innovative. My one criticism of the production is of Blaze and Jae for not cutting off that brilliant guitar loop at the beginning of “The Ritual”. If you’re unimpressed by Ellison’s rappity rapping abilities, download the Duality instrumentals and note how cohesive it sounds. Then thank Ellison. Actually we should all thank Ellison.

Now it’s time where you leave your friends and family behind and join the cult of Captain Murphy. It’s these sorts of events, and Duality really has been treated as an event, that make being a hip hop fan so damn fun. Scratch that. Make being a music fan so damn fun. If you can’t appreciate a dozen or so supremely talented individuals getting together to craft a distinctly weird tape with no chance of gaining radio play or profit, then you shouldn’t be reading this. We’re with the Captain, are you?

Witnessing the widespread panic that followed the initial posting of Captain Murphy’s Duality last Friday was almost as entertaining and mind-boggling as the actual music/visuals. Some people are actually angry that Mr. Murphy’s identity hasn’t been revealed, while others indulge in the jaw dropping list of producers involved, attempting guesses at which beat can be attributed to which beatsmith. While the Captain’s identity is still technically under wraps, you can now take home a copy (in one long MP3) of Duality and fret over it on your daily ride to work! You can also stream the chapter-split version of the tape below, courtesy of Masked Gorilla. Apparently, a deluxe version of Duality is on the way, which will (probably) contain exciting features like split tracks, producer credits (!) and hopefully some more cult-centered visuals. In the meantime, stream below and grab the full tape here.

Captain Murphy is now a household name (or maybe a messy apartment name if the rest of the fan-base is anything like the author). We still have no idea who Captain Murphy is. I trust Flying Lotus when he says it’s just a young rapper with dope rhymes who is camera shy. Maybe there will be some clues on Duality, which is set to drop this Thursday the 15th.

His latest collaboration with Azizi Gibson and Jeremiah Jae meets or exceeds the level of dopeness we expect from Murphy. It’s got the haphazard vocal interjections under the main vocal common in Azizi Gbson x Jeremiah Jae collaborations, together with the intense bouts of pitch shifting of Captain Murphy that has come to define his vocal presence. On the upcoming Duality mixtape It will be nice to hear these smooth sailing hip hop tunes right next to heavy trap beats of the likes of Shake Weight.

This beat has Flying Lotus written all over it from the drum compression to the granular ambience in the background. It sounds like one of the ones he’s had lying around for a few years and finally found an artist worthy of it. The beat carries the track but the vocals really just prove that these guys are great lyricists. Listen for a final fantasy reference, a lord of the rings reference, and what sounds like a Talib Kweli diss(?).

When Lunice and Hudson Mohawke came out swinging at the American hip hop consensus, many assumed (myself included) they were aiming their fine-tuned WMD at the Southern hip hop conglomerate. Their first remix of Flocka’s “Rooster In Rari” reinforced that assumption and the EP was even pigeonholed by some as an extension of the trap phenomenon. Oh how we underestimated the project. When Lunice and HudMo hinted that they had MC’s lined up for every track on the EP, I assumed the features would be a menagerie of well-known Southern MC’s with maybe an A$AP Rocky or Danny Brown thrown in for good measure. This though? They have certainly outdone themselves Captain Murphy: you probably know the name by now. He sounds a lot like a pitch shifted Tyler/Earl combination. “Shake Weight” involves the Captain going the fuck in over the bubbling, immense heap of braggadocio that is “Bugg’n”. The doors are wide open folks. I’m looking forward to Canibus throwing his next paranoid rant down over “Gooo”. Fuck, and this video? I jokingly posted a while back that we were just going to become TNGHT stenographers, but would that really be such a bad thing? Grab the free download below and watch the video above (preferably under a controlled substance).

Download: Captain Murphy – “Shake Weight”

Back in April, a menagerie of characters joined Flying Lotus on stage for the finale of his Weekend One Coachella set, punctuated by a live rendition of “Hard In Paint”. The on-stage crowd was made up largely of the Brainfeeder cohort, but one prepubescent face stuck out. None other than Earl Sweatshirt was standing front and center flapping his stick like arms and wylin’ like… well like he was on stage for a Thundercat assisted rendition of “Hard In The Paint”. Up until that point, a collaboration between the two Angelenos seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream and their public relationship boiled down to Twitter banter. From there though… whew anything was possible. “Between Friends” is that possibility. Part of Adult Swim’s Singles Series (faultless as of late), the collaboration is another example of the Odd Future stalwart taking his talents in a new direction. Last week, he was featured on The Alchemist’s dusty “Elimination Chamber” and “Between Friends” sees him attempting another distinctly non-Odd Future sound. Both fans and haters of the collective will be hard-pressed not to sink their teeth into “Between Friends”, also featuring the mysteriously named Captain Murphy that sounds a little like Tyler. The fractured beginning of the track is congruent with the off-kilter sound FlyLo has carefully cultivated, a sound as akin to Dilla as it is to Aphex Twin, that is to say somewhere in the realm between sample hip hop and jungle. Earl’s sometime frustrating monotone effortlessly slips into the grooves of the beat and that’s about all you need to know. Lucky for all of us, the good folks at Adult Swim are giving away “Between Friends” for free (get it below). The track will not appear on FlyLo’s upcoming Until The Quiet Comes, hitting us on October 1st.

Download: Flying Lotus – “Between Friends” Feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy)

Update: Flying Lotus was kind enough to upload the instrumental to his Soundcloud. Much love Mr. Ellison. Much love.