To categorize Cult Encounters Co as a “hip-hop supergroup” would be a misnomer. True, their roster is rather large. But the term “supergroup” seems to apply solely to already-established rappers (whether mainstream or underground) who have a sizable following, who come together and join forces (Boot Camp Clik, Slaughterhouse, and even the Weathermen, for example). The more accurate term for Cult Encounters Co would be “collective.” Not like the Borg from “Star Trek” who are all linked to one another with no traces of individuality, by rather like “chemistry”, as in they play off each other. The group, comprised of members Tylr C, $adflcko, Hypesun, Big Sharp, Jakk da Rhymer, Faze the Villain, and AllButtonsIn, are indeed a self-described hip-hop collective hailing from the Midwest to the west coast. Their second album as a collective, “Cult FM”, contains imagery reminiscent of retro wave trends from the ‘80s combined loosely with a radio theme.
Fully produced by AllButtonsIn, the album starts with “I Just Wanna Rap.” Most of the tracks on this album are posse cuts and the opening track is appropriately exactly that. It’s got the sample-heavy boom-bap theme to it even as it switches to a slightly remixed version in the middle of the song. Next comes “If It’s Trife, It’s Trife”, featuring Tylr C & $adflcko. Comprised of an airy R&B sample, both emcees wax on the subjectivity of all things “trife.” Next up are Hypesun and Big Sharp on the track “Think About It”, which starts off with production reminding me of the themes of old ‘70s TV shows like “S.W.A.T.”, but quickly upgrades into a more aggressive soundscape. So far, Hypesun is the most energetic of the group, attacking the mic with a ferocity like M.O.P. while Big Sharp’s got the gravel-vocals with punchlines. Give it a listen:
“RUN!” starts with a vintage sample of “Run, Rabbit, Run!” before becoming something menacing with ominous horns and snares. Each emcee? Tylr C, $adflcko, Big Sharp, & Jakk da Rhymer all go at the mic like hip-hop serial killers, cutting down their unseen opponents. It’s topped off with a sample collage projecting the collective’s dominance. The first solo track on the album is “Domestic Violence”, courtesy of Big Sharp, rapping about the frustrations his relationship partner brings him. Needless to say, he sounds angry! The album’s sole skit, “On Your Radio “(Interlude)”, is about one minute long and is really simply a musical transition into the next track.
“Next to You” features Tylr C & $adflcko and is driven by a strong R&B sample. Both Tylr C’s and $adflcko have slightly mush-mouthed flows which convey their vulnerability and non-sexual desire for a woman. On “Sorry for the Wait”, Hypesun goes in lyrically on this one, he’s motivated and an early bird. “Claude” is interesting. AllButtonsIn’s production on this one is dark and threatening, and features Tylr C, $adflcko, and Big Sharp. Each emcee raps a narrative about an overconfident drug pusher named Claude whose lifestyle doesn’t end well for him:
Lastly, are the final three tracks. “Don’t Wanna Die Alone” has a very blues-like production and features Tylr C, $adflcko, & Faze the Villain. The topic is seemingly morbid with the raps being about being down for whatever with true friends and family. Faze the Villain has the most poignant verse, going through his contradictions when it comes to needing people. “Loss” is another Big Sharp solo track as he provides elegiac lyrics for those he loves and finding positivity in it. The Fleetwood Mac sample stands out the most in this track. And the closer, “Final Destination.” Appropriately titled, the production is like the epic orchestral samples used by the Snowgoons for Tylr C, $adflcko & New Villain to close things out. Overall, though some of the emcees in the collective can benefit from stepping their pen-game up, “Cult FM” is a solid listen mostly all the way through.