♫♪  Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca - “Killer Inside of Me”

The music therapy pioneer, free jazz drummer, martial artist, and Black Arts Movement renaissance man, Milford Graves, in describing his polytempic drumming style and thinkings on cardiovascular health, often draws an analogy between one’s heartbeat and running across a busy street. To make it from one side to the other without getting run over, a person needs to weave forward, backward, left, right, and diagonal, while constantly varying speeds to avoid traffic. The body must respond to environmental stimuli; hence, a heartbeat that’s too rigid, monorhythmic and predictable is a sign of poor health.

This style hasn’t quite penetrated hip-hop yet in the way some other jazz tropes have. Whether down or up, most beats remain monotempic. Sure, there might be a beat change somewhere between song parts, but more than one change in tempo? Or time shifts occurring within single lines? Not so much. Notable exceptions would be MF Doom’s “Tick, Tick,” L’Orange and billy woods’ “The End,” and now to that list we can add Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca’s “Killer Inside of Me.”

As Graves points out in Full Mantis, this mode of thinking turns long held notions about swing, syncopation and staying “in the pocket” on their head. And that’s exactly what it sounds like is happening on Rocca’s beat for “Killer Inside of Me.” It’s as if he’s playing the swing dial like a crossfader. Rapping “on beat” over an instrumental like this is (arguably impossible, really, but to say the least) no small feat, which would explain why the class of rappers who’ve executed it effectively is so limited. Longtime Wrecking Crew mates Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca are not only up for the challenge, but manage to weave listeners in and out of the kind of insular noir-hop narrative that would do Jim Thompson himself proud.

“Killer Inside of Me” is on Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca’s Grift Company EP, out now of its own goddamn accord. Hide your children.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

Most Read