Photo: Mancy Gant
From Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne, Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta,” to even Biggie Small’s infamous portrait of him in a crown taken days before his death, royal symbolism has produced some of hip-hop’s most monumental moments. It is a reoccurring theme that rising Los Angeles rapper Duckwrth evokes to compelling effect in his latest phenomenal project, THE FALLING MAN.
THE FALLING MAN sees Duckwrth embarking on a metaphysical journey for the throne only for that venture to manifest as a realized outing of one of hip-hop’s most radical figures. Despite the seemingly grandiose themes at play here, THE FALLING MAN is as human a project as they come, chronicling the emotional highs and lows that befall one who seeks to go from an artist to a king. For even when you finally make it, there always exists the fear you may fall as quickly as you rose.
It is this internal power struggle that Duckwrth balances brilliantly in THE FALLING MAN’s eight-track run. “BOW,” the project’s opening track, arrives as an atmospheric red-carpet entrance, blood detailing and all, only to unfold into an explosive moment of self-adulation. Shouting the lines “I can never bow to your face, fuck humble/ High, burn that (Burn it all),” it calls to mind the death and fire that accompanied many a monarchy. It is a track that ironically enough parallels the more laidback and self-aware “KING KING.” “Insecure really, I’m lyin’ out my fuckin’ teeth (Damn)/ If you don’t play my words and beats, then I don’t eat (For real),” confesses Duckwrth in a track that breaks down the imagined idea of an artist as some holy, grand figure.
With all its notable features and production credits, including Kiana Ledé, Terrance Martin, Medasin, Rico Nasty, Mr. Carmack, Allan Kingdom, and NoMBe, it comes as no surprise that THE FALLING MAN arrives as one of 2019’s most sonically adventurous projects. Just take a listen to “SALLIE MAE” and its psychedelic opening that feels like it could have been ripped straight from Sgt. Peppers, only to have it evolve into an explosive bout of punk-hop. Upon experiencing THE FALLING MAN first-hand, whether he leaves the project as a king, an artist, or somewhere in between, one thing is certain: Duckwrth takes the throne as hip-hop’s newest punk-driven purveyor.
Listen to THE FALLING MAN below:
For more on Duckwrth, revisit our exclusive interview with the hip-hop radical where we discuss everything from anime to reshaping gender norms.