Hurt Everybody's hip-hop alchemy works on more than just iPhone ringtones

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Local rapper Jams Dean, aka Blake Gardner, is how I got sucked into the orbit of Chicago hip-hop outfit Hurt Everybody. Gardner piqued my interest back in May with a tweet: "hurt everybody is so genius for sampling that ring tone it was like right there in front of your face the whole time." He's referring to a song called "Hella Lightining/Hella Swords," on which Hurt Everybody rapper-producer Supa Bwe scrambled the default iPhone ringtone—a short marimba melody—to make the base for an out-there hip-hop beat. I've grown to hate the iPhone ringtone after having disturbed my sleep one too many times, and yet Hurt Everybody make me reconsider swearing off such a sound. To crib Supa Bwe's catchphrase, it's, well, magic.

In no time I got stuck on Hurt Everybody's tunes, or at least what's available on Soundcloud, and from one week to the next I'll focus in on one song and play it in a loop. It can lead to a quick burnout, but Hurt Everybody has been releasing a steady stream of new tunes at a fast enough clip that I can get hooked on a new tune before I overplay any of them. The group's latest is called "Transmissions," which is actually made up of two distinct beats—the dreamy "Warning" takes up nearly two minutes of the run time before transitioning into the video game synth melody of "Contact." Hurt Everybody is pretty up front about how "Contact" sounds like it could come from a video game—that's obvious from the first line, "all my hoes is Yoshis," which strikes an odd balance between nerdy, gross, and clever.

"Transmissions" is unusual, and in a style that Hurt Everybody is proving it can do well. The group is preparing to release its self-titled debut EP on Independence Day—until then I recommend listening through Hurt Everybody's previously released tracks on Supa Bwe's Soundcloud.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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