eat your food, Brooklyn’s first feature transplant Smitty! and witSmusic, stands out for its pockets. Sometimes those pockets are a function of the production duo’s syncopated drumming, which serves as the setting for witS’ frantic raps. More often than not, witS takes advantage of the negative space and creates its own measurements by cutting out rhyming patterns with the precision of a surgeon. At eat your foodIn the more expansive tracks of, the instrumentals dissolve into discrete elements, allowing witS’ vocals to take on a punchy quality. The result looks like trusty cargo shorts: ductile and utilitarian, if not the flashiest piece in the wardrobe.
An accomplished drummer in addition to his vocal and production work, witS tackles complex flows with mathematical rigor. “Numbin” alternates rhymes on one and four, with bass and clap drums accenting the downbeats. On “Seat 4 Da Cause,” witS’ three-beat flow mirrors the accented snare drum, maintaining a crisp enunciation through a series of tempo changes. His deep, resounding vocals blend with the soft keyboard synths of “Respek,” his percussionist’s instincts evident in transitional breaks and rapid syllabic fills.
There is a whiff of the avant-garde in the duo’s arrangements, yet eat your food feels deeply aware of his lineage. “God’s Child” layers Rhodes’ keys over crisp drums with the warmth of an SP-1200, evoking the high-pitched sounds of broken atoms and A wolf in sheep’s clothing. From there, you can draw a line through the alt-rap milestones of the 90s and 2000s. On the title track, witS’ righteous affect recalls the turn-of-the-century backpack scene, while “Try Again” resembles the darker digressions of Binary Star and Diamond District. The album’s sparse productions have an industrial, found-element quality reminiscent of the New York teams of Karma Kids and Backwoodz Studioz.
Formal discussions throughout the project mean that some of the eat your food, though the duo’s weirder impulses are only seen in glimpses. “Fall Off” and “Numbin” are backed by their delicate melodies, while the instrumental breakdown on “Try Again” includes standing bass and accordion synth. The juxtaposition of these abstract methods with antiquated ethics lends a quirky charm. With its cutting-edge rap union concept, “Co Exist” may have been a drag, but the song’s structural pivots are thrilling. The title track’s social commentary is equally upbeat without being overly pedantic: “Every day above ground is a good day/Lemons in lemonade, that’s the dark way/Let’s separate the bullshit, and now we’re happy .”
Occasionally, eat your food feels tied to tradition in a way that prevents WitS and Smitty! to make a bolder statement, but there’s something quite radical about a pair of serious rap nerds so devoted to cogs and bolts. The two important appearances on the album are instructive. Quelle Chris, who appears on “Hurry Up,” is a looser performer than witS, able to convey more in fewer words; Bruiser Wolf’s flamboyance in “Modern Day” makes his collaborators humble in comparison. Still, witS weighs its weight on both tracks, flashing the mechanics where Wolf and Quelle opt for stylistic grandeur. As a duo, witS and Smitty! are hard-working students who have clearly studied the right texts.