Review: Tiny Warm Hearts by Louie Knuxx
Louie Knuxx has been in the thick of a resurgence in progressive rap in this country for more than a minute. His last record, PGT/GRR took his gruff vocals and spun them out over interesting beats and dark topics at a time when his peers were pushing boundaries too. PNC released arguably the record of his career, The Codes, the same year and @peace had come up with the sci-fi fuelled philosophical masterpiece, @Peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony and both had shown up on PGT/GRR. It was a time to be incredibly proud of the hip hop scene, but if anything, it felt like Knuxx could go further. On Tiny Warm Hearts, he has.
The most noticeable feature on the new one from Knuxx is the superb beats. They eek out over the record a dark underwater feel with sparks of sweet treble like coming up for air. In and of themselves, they are cool and interesting, but it is their pairing with Knuxx’s flow which makes the sound both unique and infectious. Opener, Body, with great support from MZWETWO is a smooth number that is a must listen, but it works on the album as someone slowly opening a door. It gives a hint of what is to come, but not the whole view just yet. By the time the album crawls through to stand out tracks like Cold and Dead Heart Stealing, and the title track the view is full.
Knuxx’s lyrics can be hard to capture as they ricochet around these beats. That might put people off on another record, but like Blu or Oddisee lyrics, you end up going back over the tracks again and again to catch the gems. Just like his perfect pairing of beats and delivery, Knuxx’s pairing of stark imagery around sex and crime is paired with great lines you don’t expect on a record with these themes. “This apartment snazzy/the décor even better” has to make you smile on a track about Suzie’s Perfect Pussy (PPS). Because this album is still up for a pay-what-you-like/koha to download, it’s a must grab for anyone digging rap that is confident in stepping outside the comfort zone.