In many ways, Gonjasufi’s 2010 album A Sufi and a Killer was the most underrated and overrated release of that year. Even with the LP being released on what could be considered a major indie label (the British, mostly electronic-leaning Warp), it didn’t get a lot of attention from major outlets outside of Pitchfork. Still, looking back, I don’t think I read one blog post that year that wasn’t popping a boner over Gonjasufi’s mix of psychedelic dirges and lo-fi trip-hop.
Here’s my theory: A lot of music bloggers are major stoners. If you smoke weed, you’re bound to like Gonjasufi—a rapper, singer and Chula Vista native whose real name is Sumach Ecks—a lot more than you otherwise would. But where Killer really succeeded was in its ability to get even non-tokers to bob their heads (and sometimes scratch it). Like Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing or the more recent Cosmogramma by Sufi bud Flying Lotus, it was an album whose originality trumped its sometimes-alienating sound.
Now, we have a follow-up in MU.ZZ.LE, a 10-track mini-album that was produced by Sufi and local producer Psychopop. The distorted, trademark voice is still here, but the sonic experimentalism is dialed down a bit. He sounds like Mos Def at his most loose—indeed, “Venom” and “Blaksuit” sound like outtakes from the emcee’s 2004 release, The New Danger.
I can see fans of Sufi, who now lives in Las Vegas, embracing just about anything he puts out (the weed helps), but I can’t help but feel that Sufi has lost a bit of his edge. Songs like “The Blame” and “Nikels and Dimes” are downright catchy! I know, it’s weird that I’m bitching about a song being catchy, but you know what? Give me adventurousness and inaccessibility over retreads and comforting familiarity any day. I may not like it immediately, but I’ll at least commend the novelty.