The key to understanding Tyler Swan and SPECSs new tape is the phrase Kingston Crimson.
The key to understanding Tyler Swan and SPECS's new tape is the phrase "Kingston Crimson." Ongoing Discipline

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.

TS AND THE S is available on cassette through local label Ongoing Discipline.