Broadcast Pop Culture

Coast Contra

by Carl Terver

There isn’t much to say about the American hip-hop group Coast Contra than to announce them to you. What you might feel may be the same spiritual connection I felt when I first encountered them on their Give Up The Goods freestyle. And it’s simply because the group redefines the purity of hip-hop in a not-so purist way but still gat that purity, if you know what I’m sayin’.

It is KRS One you hear, it’s Rakim, it’s all of the 80s and 90s hip-hop coming back, when you listen to this group. So reminiscent of the Wu Tang Clan. Wordplay, flex, mathematical elegance, brilliance, nuance, puns, the embodiment of lyricism; they deserve any respect we want to give them.

The group is made up of four male rappers. Los Angeles twins Ras and Taj Austin, Colombia-born Rio Loz, and Philadelphian Eric Jamal, who has not-so-subtle Kendrick Lamar flair. These rappers are machines.

The group started with the twin brothers and Rio Loz in 2013, joined three years later by Jamal. In 2019, they did a score titled Queen & Slim, which was their first single, for the motion picture of the same name starring Daniel Kuluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith. Their debut, released March this year, is Apt. 505.

It is curious what they are doing with rap/hip-hop, being so orthodox today where authenticity is hardly a currency and TikTok rules. They don’t appear to be rapping for the capitalist or celeb industry, if they somehow keep up the purism. We shall see. But doubtlessly, they make us rethink about hip-hop.

Did the time of the emcee, of OG, boy-from-da-hood rap we bop our heads to, as philosophical punch lines sink in—what many may call “original rap,” ever phase out? To remain oldskool as to be just oldskool? Because we find here artistes in a new age. We should expect their newness. But we don’t see that; they’re telling us vintage is better.

Carl Terver is the founding editor at Afapinen.