“I think people should check this album because it’s pretty intense from start to finish. I tried to make a cult film in audio format.”—Calig Kontra on his new album, Simian Automatic
New Orleans rapper Calig Kontra (f/k/a Caligula) steps out with a statement-making new album, Simian Automatic, that serves as his proper debut under his new moniker. And to say that he lived up to his own expectations—that is, to make a cult film in audio format—would be a massive understatement. This is underground hip-hop at its most organic; a grit-covered example of what the subgenre truly stands for, and what can be achieved when the artform is pushed to its limits.
You hear that vibe instantly on opening track “Out of Body,” a musically immersive piece that also happens to be Calig’s favorite song on Simian Automatic. “It sets the tone for the rest of the album, and I dug up the music and vocal samples for it myself,” he explains.
Speaking to the tone, it’s one steeped in how the emcee views our “extra PC modern society.” In his words, “Everyone is supposed to be socially evolved, you’re seeing more and more mass shootings than ever, yet we’re so distracted and desensitized that it’s forgotten in less than a week’s time,” he says. “We’re basically just primal creatures easily influenced by media, medicines, and a self-consumed fantasy world that most live in.”
It’s a harrowing, albeit realistic, view of where the world is at in 2019, and Calig brings these views to life through his music. There’s a cinematic feel to tracks like “Duval” and “Suicidal Monolith,” which are lyrically rich and brimming with provocative production. The same goes for when he teams up with his talented guests, like Pacewon on standout track “Crown” and Shabaam Sahdeeq on the chilling “Gator Rogowski” (yeah, you’ll need to Google that name).
At its core, Simian Automatic represents a new time for Calig and his career. Whereas he views his past work as that of a destructive, younger artist, Simian Automatic represents the sound of someone who’s more aware and, frankly, more concerned about where we’re headed.
The 16 track LP is available now on CD and through all major digital retailers and streaming platforms through producer Black Panther’s label, Manekinekopro. The album—whose album artwork is designed by Lia Kantrowitz (Vice, Sunday School)—will also be available on vinyl and cassette in Spring 2020.
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