Tyler Swan and SPECSWIZARD, "Decent" (Ongoing Discipline)
If Tyler Swan and SPECSWIZARD's new album, TS AND THE S, teaches us anything, it's that hip-hop needs more swirling Mellotron swells lifted from early King Crimson LPs. (Let Kanye West sample the chorus and bludgeoning riff from "21st Century Schizoid Man"; Tyler Swan and SPECSWIZARD are more subtle cats.) Beyond that key bit of crate-digger acuity, TS AND THE S boasts samples off records Swan acquired on a trip to Kingston from Studio One, Rockers International, and other bastions of Jamaican reggae and dub. Swan has done such an amazing job contouring the reggae elements into a hip-hop framework, you might never discern the sources, unless you're a serious aficionado of the former genre.
While all of TS AND THE S is strong, I gravitated toward "Decent" for its aforementioned Mellotron swirl and poignant Robert Fripp guitar solo. As always, SPECS sounds preternaturally cool as he brings his patented confidential flow and low-key braggadocio: "Check out this trick/WIZARD stay mystic.../This is why I pick the mic up/To serve words, disturb nerds/With a discrepancy, let it be." The beat sounds like it came from a pastoral prog album from the early '70s, so it's not going to blow up any club systems. Rather, this is hip-hop for introverts who want to get out of their heads in an unconventional manner.