Boomkat Product Review:
PTP boss GENG, aka KING VISION ULTRA, chops and edits stems from Algiers' "SHOOK", voice messages, and YouTube clips to sculpt a loving and vital tribute to NYC's mixtape culture, with contributions from Dreamcrusher, DJ Haram, Dis Fig, Matana Roberts, Harlem Boog, L'Rain, Bigg Jus and others.
You can smell the stale gasoline fumes, waterlogged subways and half-drowned street franks as soon as you hit play on 'Shook World'. A born and bred New Yorker, GENG's creative evolution is tied to the city, from his early days as a satellite member of Atoms Family through to the last decade where he's been at the helm of PTP, spending as much time nurturing his community of outsiders and free-thinkers as he has developing his own solo expression. It's surprising then that the record emerged from an invitation from Atlanta's Algiers to collaborate on a version of last year's "SHOOK" full-length. As GENG worked on the tracks, the record developed its own ecosystem, growing from the initial "SHOOK" stems into a sprawling epic that the producer used to reflect his relationship with NYC. Thinking back to the days of Mondo Kim's and Tape Kingz when you could walk thru the door and grab mindboggling mixtapes from the Tri-State Area's most high-minded boundary pushers, GENG blended in iPhone recordings and voice messages, using them like skits to break up tracks with his extended family of poets and noisemakers.
A familiarity with Algiers' original material isn't required here - there's little left on 'Inferno of 1992', and it's hard to hear where Matana Roberts' sax ends and the ATL troupe's material begins. It's hardly important, as it's LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs' poetry that anchors the track, giving us a sober introduction to an album that doesn't shy away from its activism. Armand Hammer's E L U C I D dips in for a feature spot on 'Irreversible, Devil', and GENG treats the source material like kindling, burning instruments into ashes while the NYC rapper spits cool-headed rhymes that hark back to simpler times. It wouldn't be a PTP gettogether without Dreamcrusher, and Luwayne Glass brings their preternatural ebullience to 'UNTRAPPINGS', goading Algiers' post-punk jangles with delay-seduced screams and noise-gaze attitude. The short skits are just as crucial to the listening experience; with an old head's sense of timing, GENG splices boom bap loops, L-train whooshes, background chatter and crowd sounds to sonically transport us not just to a cityscape but a timeline. While we're tuned into "Shook World", we're able to hear GENG's autobiography as well as his current mores.
This world-building makes the more generous tracks like 'Stand On It_LITE WORK', hit that much harder. Once we're situated we can fully breathe in GENG's smoggy, downtown-inspired production work, that owes as much to "On The Corner" as it does "The Infamous Mobb Deep", and Nakama's literate, tongue-twisting rhymes. Sometimes we can't help but be reminded of incendiary Harlem Duo Cannibal Ox or MF DOOM on tracks like the crumpled 'Cold Hex', led by Desde's sweltering turn on the mic. But inevitably, within moments we're hopping to another subway car, meeting DJ Haram and Dis Fig on the inebriated 'Tragic World Weapon' and established KVU collaborator amani on 'Shatterproof'.
There's almost too much here to chew on - and more to unpack than the trunk after a trip to the Gateway Center. Whether you need a reminder of New York's ferric past or a roadmap to the city's future, GENG's provided us with material that challenges our preconceptions and shocks us into action. It's impossible not to get sucked in.