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“We Buy Diabetic Test Strips” Review

Hard hitting hitting lyricism and beats makes Armand Hammer’s 2023 album one of the best rap projects of last year.

Armand Hammer is one of the hardest-to-follow duos in modern hip-hop. Billy Woods and ELUCID’s incredibly deliberate rapping style, that borders on spoken word, paired with some of the most disorienting production in rap today makes this duo a hard-to-acquire taste. “We Buy Diabetic Test Strips” is their 6th studio album and stays true to their style of weird flows, weirder beats and imagery so vivid it’s scary. 

The first half of the fourth song, “When It Doesn’t Start With A Kiss,” produced by JPEGMAFIA, starts with some sporadic guitar strings before transitioning to an incredibly subtle beat composed of almost entirely bass. The way JPEGMAFIA uses the bass makes this beat feel incredibly somber, a sensation that is only heightened when he layers in small bits of woodwinds near the half point of the song. Meanwhile, ELUCID’s verse, while incredibly hard to decipher, feels as though he’s becoming more accepting of himself now as he literally says near the end of his verse “I felt more like myself.”

The song “Trauma Mic” has a beat composed of what sounds like metal being banged together while a tornado siren rings out in the background. Combined with an over-the-top amount of bass and a verse from ELUCID where it feels like he’s interrogating you, this is one of the most overwhelming songs on the record. It makes you feel like you’re drowning in the best way possible.

“The Gods Must Be Crazy” might be the most normal song on the whole album with a beat courtesy of EL-P. Skittering vocal samples, descending lines of bass and a strange yet ear-grabbing screeching noise in the background make this one of EL-P’s best beats in years. Though Woods and ELUCID use probably their most normal flows on this song, the lyrics make this one of the most hard-to-decipher songs on the album. The title is a reference to a movie in which an untouched tribe finds a Coca-Cola bottle that fell out of a passing airplane which slowly tears the tribe apart through conflict. Woods draws comparisons between the plot of the movie and the crack epidemic with lines like “Coke out the sky, rocks big as your hand.”

Loaded front to back with lyrical density and creative yet at times off-putting beats, this is a must-listen for any fan of more experimental rap and one of last year’s best experimental rap albums.

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About the Contributor
Jake Williams
Jake Williams, Journalist
Jake Williams is a junior at Pioneer and Community High School and this is his first year on staff. When not at school Jake spends his time playing video games with his friends, building sets for PTG, coaching flag football at WideWorld Sports Center, and listening to an unhealthy amount of music. Jake is looking forward to talking about and reviewing music in his first year on the staff of The Communicator.

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