new music: signor benedick the moor’s ‘opus 3 – a man atop the tower’ is the most ambitious hip-hop record of the year. #soundcheck

November 25, 2014

In classical music, an Opus designates a major published work. For Signor Benedick The Moor to call his third album ‘Opus 3 – A Man Atop the Tower’ could be a pretentious declaration if it weren’t so accurate. This is an album so challenging and massive in scope, comparing it to a classical composition is probably the only way to honestly approach it.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

R. Kelly famously coined the term “hip-hopera” to describe his Trapped in the Closet story, but the term is unfair here. As hilariously self-parodying as Trapped in the Closet is, comparing it to ‘Opus 3’ is like comparing a soap opera to Mozart, and I doubt anyone would draw a parallel between ‘Days of Our Lives’ and Don Giovanni. Instead this shares a template with some of the more experimental rock operas like The Pretty Things’ SF Sorrow or The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute. Only Deltron 3030 even comes close. It’s darkly epic, huge in a way that’s more theatrical than cinematic, complete with a heartbreaking spoken monologue.

Multi-instrumentalist Signor Benedick The Moor self-produced ‘Opus 3’, with mixing help from Jonathan Snipes of clipping., blending industrial guitars with trap beats and orchestral instrumentation. The narrative tells the story of the rise and fall of King Milo. Set 200 years in the future, it’s a story of a royal family, and the ways tragedies pass through generations. It’s a Greek Tragedy with better beats. Like many rock operas, the narrative isn’t totally linear and the characters come in and out of view. Sometimes the vocals are from the a character’s perspective, as on the electric ‘The Emperor’s Plight’ while sometimes they’re from the point of view of an omniscient narrator on the haunting ‘The Empress’ Obscurity.’

You can hear little bits of Benedick’s varied influences throughout, but the stunning thing is the way he merges them to create something totally unique. Let’s be real, it’s not fair to call this a 6 track album, this is one composition that’s been cut into 6 movements. That sometimes the drums and classical instrumentation are clearly synthesized is a minor criticism blinded by ‘Opus 3 – A Man Atop the Tower”s unprecedented ambition. There’s just straight up nothing out there on this level right now.

Purchase Opus 3 – A Man Atop the Tower via Juicy Records here.