Right of the cuff, two things caught my attention about Modesto, California creative, Digital Gringo. Firstly, his biography reads: “Digital Gringo is a rapper that raps”. And secondly, how many rappers do you know that rhyme perfectly to the funky beat foundation of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove”? But my enchantment with this atypical rapper didn’t stop there, while listening to his aptly named 12 track album – “Project Mayhem”. In fact, as a description, ‘mayhem’ may actually be an understatement once you’ve run through the entirety of this recording. The tones and moods on this album run from hard-ass hardcore, to insanely over the top and ironically humorous.
So what we’ve got here is a blend of the aggressively styled Eminem flow. The no-holds-barred Beastie Boys attitude, and the zany, boundary pushing predilection of Weird Al Jankovic. Sound like a strangely weird, and original combination? Yes it is!
To complete the project, which runs the gamut between experimental and conscious rap, Digital Gringo has also called in Ugly Queen and Jesse Fioren on vocals, as well as Matt Nasty on drums on a few tracks. Jesse Fioren also shares production credits with Digital Gringo.
After the intro “Howdy Do!”, “Maximum Carnage” sets out to establish the sustained temperature of what’s to follow. And with lines like: “Fuck the roof, I raise the house,” you know exactly where Digital Gringo is going with this.
So when Ugly Queen states: “Don’t ever trust in a bitch like me. I’ll fuck your dad and be your new mommy,” on “Gringo Def Rock”, it’s something you’ll be expecting…if not entirely desiring! Unsurprisingly, the album’s most successful songs are the ones where Digital Gringo becomes a human bulldozer, where he’s simply in beast mode.
The title track, “Project Mayhem”, falls directly into that category, and shows off a stunningly aggressive vocal performance by Digital Gringo, on a track that has a deadly serious theme.
On “Sofa King Awesome” Digital Gringo rides a rumbling 90’s styled, bass-driven beat, into excitable explicit bliss: “I’m so fucking awesome, you could never be like me. You’ll never get a broad to show you her boobies.” “Not Dead Today” is another album highlight, where Digital Gringo leans towards his serious and darker side.
It’s on tracks like these that you catch glimpse of his full potential, which is immense. Ugly Queen pops up again on “Bird Law” to add a cute and quaint flavor to the upbeat track. The momentum pushing “Sweet Chin Music” is all wrapped up in screaming retro synths and machine gun percussion.
It’s back to beast mode on “Dawn of the Third Day”, with another raspy and harsh rapping display by Digital Gringo. This time around that harshness is juxtaposed against the melodic backdrop of Jesse Fioren’s vocals.
This is possibly the most impressive track on the album, and my personal favorite, in terms of the mood and atmosphere it creates. “Darkwing Duck” rolls in on another scratchy 90’s beat, where Digital Gringo puts on his Beastie Boys mask and twisted lyrical tongue.
Your personal enjoyment of this record will largely depend on your invested interest in the legacy of rap music, and how open your mind is to anything outside of the mainstream. If you have those two elements perfectly lined up, then “Project Mayhem” cannot be described as anything less than brilliant!