Album Review: Show Me the Body – CORPUS I

By Eli Shively, General Manager
[Loma Vista; 2017]
Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “Trash,” “In A Grave,” “Halogen”

Show Me the Body’s new mixtape CORPUS I just about proves the collective intuition of their fans true: Not a single artist or band out there is doing what they’re doing, not even close. The logical follow-up to that statement is a bit harder to establish a concrete answer to — what exactly are they doing, anyway?

It’s tough to say. Their debut full-length Body War drew praise from fans of hardcore, hip-hop and extreme music alike when it burst onto the scene last year, establishing the group as mad genre-bending scientists who’ll stop at nothing to achieve the desired sonic result. Their aggressive, borderline terrifying method of both studio and live performance fronted their deep desire to push themselves to the limit in any direction they set their minds to, kind of like a curious child furiously hacking away at a sandbox with all their might. Simply put, if Body War was what happens when you give that kid a shovel, CORPUS I is the equivalent of lending them a backhoe and telling them to knock themselves out.

That’s not to say that CORPUS I lacks direction. It skews pretty heavily toward Show Me the Body’s hip-hop tastes, with a gigantic guest list spanning all corners of the world of indie rap — Denzel Curry, Princess Nokia, Moor Mother and Cities Aviv, just to name a few. Of course, the heavy presence of power electronic and industrial production will surely invite tons of lazy Death Grips comparisons, but Show Me the Body cuts through the air of mystery and dark ambiguity that particular groups try to establish by being at times almost too direct.

“That’s when you go home, you lay in bed, six in the morning after a mescaline trip and you’re like ‘Yo, I hope some motherfucker out there is not dead.’” So sharply ends the spoken word outro to mid-album track “Stress,” painting a horrifyingly vivid picture of life in a brutal, violent side of New York most prefer not to see. This is where the thematic side of CORPUS I really comes into full view: The classic theme of hormone-induced teenage unrest that has persisted for decades in both hardcore and hip-hop put front and center in all its spastic, grotesque glory.

The spoken word interludes scattered throughout the record serve to contextualize the gritty, harsh, and often legitimately scary sounds being created: It all comes from the experience of tireless, suffering kids just searching for some sort of outlet. “I can just go home and write some fuckin’ graffiti in a big ass book, try to do a fuckin’ piece,” explains the narrator of the last interlude, peeling back the layers of hardened street toughness the record spent the past forty minutes building up and up and up. It’s humanizing, touching, even — a climactic moment of vulnerability stranded in a sea of brash attitude.

The moments that bring the record to that particular emotional place are too many to count, varied and abundant as the many different hip-hop subgenres and trends Show Me the Body threw in the figurative melting pot on this tape. If one hypothetically did try to pick apart every single influence, they’d no doubt find themselves baffled by how much is being experimented with and riffed on, but what CORPUS I tries to convey on the whole is interwoven with that reckless sense of creativity. It mixes dark fantasies with the harsh realities that bring them about, capturing the lightning of urban youth in a bottle every step of the way.

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