When New York native son Elucid began work on his solo debut he envisioned production from TEK Life founder DJ Rashad. Had Rashad not unexpectedly passed away, Save Yourself might have sounded distinctly different. He wrote in an email, “Initially, I wanted this album to fully showcase my love of both forward leaning hip hop and electronic music.”
“At the time, as far as I could see, DJ Rashad was the only person fit for producing this album.”
Back to the drawing board, Elucid holed up in his bedroom with an old school drum machine/sampler, a busted synthesizer and a gifted record collection. Among those records was Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising and various post-punk releases of the downtown scene of the late ’70s to early ’80s. Through those records Save Yourself took on form. One he describes as a harmonious collage of noise and atmospheric texture.
“Musically, that time period saw the emergence and interplay of hip hop and punk,” he said. “Folks still listened to jazz and rock groups hired reggae bassists to shore up the foundation with rock solid low end. Those thick and jagged post punk bass lines sounded like sped up versions of the funk and disco style bass lines my dad played riding around in his forest green Oldsmobile Cutlass.”
And so goes Save Yourself, a subterranean ode to the Koch era of NYC written from perspective of a native that never lived it, but rather ingested its artifacts. Elucid channels ghosts in his debut, but it’s far from a bygone-obsessed revival record. History is metabolized and possibly reincarnate. “A 1000 Faces” launches the record, possibly as an abridged reference to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Elucid’s voice in foreground asserts “been here before” over baby coos and sonic bursts.
“At its core this is a record repeatedly referencing rebirth.”
With rebirth central to Save Yourself, Elucid works through phases of himself that deal in fallen angel syndrome on “Blame The Devil”, black nationalism on the fractured, abstract blues “If You Say So”(one of the most masterful expressions on the record), and unbridled heretic poems on “Jealous God”. It’s both a non-linear Bildungsroman and an examination of a 15 month span of his life in four phases: examination, assessment, shedding, and reimagination.
In its most jarring and industrial moments, like “Jealous God”, Elucid is spraying krylon toy tags over the sacred tableau of the rap record—no fucks given. But, it’s all building towards the reimagination phase of “MBTTS” (More Brilliant Than The Sun) and “Son Still Shine”. In this suite Elucid is no longer unhinged, but entirely free and lucid in his knowingness.
“This is a record expressing Blackness,” he wrote, the capitalization being significant. “Extending from there, this album touches on lost love, inequality, and liberation. I’m talking about histories and structures. I’m pointing out where they intersect. I’m trying to get free.”