Feral the Earthworm presents a valid case for why he may be the best in ATX with his latest album, Vanarchy. Through the rapper’s keen observations, sharp wit, and tightly bound vernacular expositions, the 11-track LP digs into social traditions that transcend racial, cultural, and economic boundaries, and speaks directly to the outcasts, drifters and feral creatures of the world.
Conceived within the mobile confines of the nomadic rapper’s four-wheeled ‘hippopotamus’ home, Vanarchy represents Feral’s third full-length rhythm and poetry project since 2013. “This was probably the most fun I’ve had while working on an album so far,” admits the insightful rapper. “There was never a time where I second guessed myself or felt pressured to make it a certain way. I just basically posted up at the park in my camper van, drank coffee, and wrote whatever I wanted to. Then I recorded it and that was that!”
The album’s opener, ‘Imaginary Numbers’, derived possibly from Feral’s alienated and disaffected upbringing in Houston’s affluent suburb of The Woodlands, delves into the American education system and its disregard for its students’ inherent individuality. Feral declares that hip-hop has always been the focal point of his existence and ‘Do What I Love’ is a testament to that purpose as he explores society’s incarceration to consumerism and obsession with material excess through a lucid flow articulating “Western culture is obsessed with success / Everybody is so impressed with lavishness and excess / If we don’t have it we get depressed / tell ourselves we’re worth less.”
‘Pokemon Go Fuck Yourself’ hits on the superficial and mindless infatuations that keep us oblivious to the catastrophic political and social issues all around us. The ambitious ‘Kamikaze Tendencies’ illustrates Feral’s sheer will and determination with his confident if not slightly braggadocios delivery of “I worked hard for this, while y’all half-assed it / That’s why I got more rhymes than Congress bridge got bat shit.” The introspective ‘All I Have’ stands out as Vanarchy’s most inspired track as Feral recounts finding bliss in a sanctuary of sound during his turbulent childhood and mother’s chemical dependency. “When shit hits the fan, it’s music that gets me through.”
The strength of Vanarchy lies within the raw honesty of Feral’s sharp and cunning lyrical forays. But it’s the moments of vulnerability and comedic self-deprecating awareness that truly ground the project and prevent the LP from becoming too heavy or pretentious. The angst and at times, acceptance, in Feral’s voice is evident as he breaks down his subject matter. But, the rapper demonstrates a polished comprehension for hip-hop and seems to have found something special within that camper van. So, here’s to hoping Feral continues doing what he loves and fuck the rest.
Author: Doug Leach