“You’re All Ears” is the debut album from Melbourne rapper Maggot Mouf. He offers up fifteen tracks of horror-tinged hip-hop, taking inspiration from the Wu-Tang Clan and Gravediggaz.
The album cover let’s you know what this record is going to sound like: it’s an ink sketch on crumpled paper of a guy wearing a necklace of severed ears. The lettering looks like a message from a serial killer, and the whole feel is grimy. The opening skit on the album is audio from a horror movie, which further sets the tone for the album. “Village of the Damned” name drops every horror movie from “Children of the Corn” to “Bad Taste.” The beat, supplied by the aptly named Joey Gargoyle, uses a loop of a stringed instrument to creepy effect.
While “You’re All Ears” is inspired by horror movies, Maggot Mouf doesn’t do horror rap. Instead, he uses horror imagery to describe everyday life. The prime example is “Footrot Flats,” an examination of a housing project that makes it seem like it should be on Elm Street. Maggot Mouf captures the drama, desperation, and despair of Footrot Flats inhabitants like Edgar Allen Poe spitting rhymes. “Never Would Admit It” is about a junkie girlfriend, and “Confined Spaces,” one of the best songs on the album, sees Maggot Mouf trading rhymes with Dekoda.
Crazy and deranged
Everybody looks the same
Now it seems strange
Confined in a cage ’til we all turn insane
Soon they’ll use numbers just to mark down our names”
Maggot Mouf strays from the horror theme on a few songs.”She Sells Sea Shells” is porn rap with a club-friendly beat, and “Mr. Swarv” is a lightweight song about a ladykiller featuring ? (possibly the most unpractical rap name since P.O.R.N.). The majority of tracks, however, are grim and grimy as hell. Sammy Scissors, Must, Mizari, Ciecmate, Bigfoot, and C-Rodent all offer up beats, most in the time-honored RZA template: stark beat over scratchy sample. It works, but doesn’t make for a lot of variety.
Maggot Mouf does what he does well, but I found his sound and subject matter monotonous after a couple tracks. Too many of the songs were his half-shouted psychopathic rhymes over a somber beat. By the third song, I was ready to move on. Still, fans who want to hear what an Australian version of the Gravediggaz might sound like should cop “You’re All Ears.” Maggot Mouf’s debut is a dark, twisted slab of wax.