This band, Sinister Twin, came to be with quite an interesting story of origin. The project came together after the members’ individual histories had them born around the same time, being given the same first names, and driven by the same passions for hip hop music. This project was the result of their seemingly inevitable collaboration: Sinister Twin.
So, they started out with a three-song EP concept, known as Black Palace. Being a story-driven duo, this concept is based on a dark tale of desperation and drug abuse. It tells the story of a new father who has been a drug addict his whole life and staggers at the idea of being a new parent. Through a crippling struggle, he is in constant conflict with the influence drugs have left on his life while – to his horror – he can only watch as his son goes down that same road he once went down, and eventually suffering from a premature death. The father soon looks for someone to blame all of this on as he strives to take revenge on the harlots who supplied his son’s first hit. Though the rap opera idea isn’t exactly a new thing (R. Kelly’s ‘Trapped in the Closet’ comes to mind when talking about multi-stage rap pieces), Black Palace brings it back and gives it a melodic hip-hop refresher.
Black Palace is divided into three acts (hence the three-song concept of the EP), and it starts off pretty strong with ‘Act I: Every Venomous Drop’ – aside from the beat, which struck me as generic. Though the beat was not the most original thing, it sufficiently carried the words and told a dark story in a sickly beautiful way. Something else that seemed somewhat simplistic was the rhyme scheme and the choice of words, but I suppose they got the job done. The prose is decent considering many mainstream rap songs are constructed of utter garbage that’s mostly self-promotional without a true defining case. This is different because it actually tells a story.
‘Act II: The Crypt Keeper’ settles in the middle as an effective bridge between the beginning and the finale. Plot-wise, it is also more about action rather than reflection. Rather than brooding in a self-struggle as the video for ‘Act I’ displayed, the drug-addicted father makes well on his homicidal promise and takes out his anger on the women he suspects provided the hit that led his son to a downward spiral.
‘Act III: The Prequel’ comes in like a storm with a rougher beat to back it up. The intensity of the music, the singing, the rapping, and even the narrative suggests the arriving of a climax – and arrive it did. The singing was at its strongest during the third act, and the content just seemed more extreme and representational. Its use of symbolism is effective and important when creating any kind of art in this form. My favourite attribute to this piece would definitely have to be the “demon inside” and violence-lusting aspect of an unstable drug addict. The demon inside needs to be fed, though in the temporary absence of drugs, the father refers to violence, which will – in his mind – make right the wrong that happened. The tragedy also stems from the fact that he didn’t take into account his failing as a proper father or his son’s failing to become a well-adjusted human being (though with a drug addict as a father, this is much more difficult to obtain) as the probable reason of his son’s untimely demise.
To be honest, I didn’t think I would like this EP that much considering I am not much of a fan of rap or even hip hop in general. I did like this though, because it is rap done right. It’s poetry – a story in motion. It isn’t the best rap I’ve heard or even the best story, but the unison of the two makes for a great end product, the psychological themes of drug abuse and poor mental health root it into today’s time. It’s clear that there was a lot of work put into this. I hope that these guys continue this collaborative project and make a whole repertoire of tales of this calibre.
For more on Sinister Twin, visit their Facebook page.