The Knux are brothers Kentrell “Krispy Kream” Lindsey and Alvin “Rah Almillio” Lindsey, born and bred in New Orleans before a move to LA. Just one listen will immediately garner comparisons to Outkast, likely because of their near identical flow that is one part southern drawl and one part hyperkinetic wordplay. The Fuck You EP, a Twitter-announced, downloadable release, keeps that connection strong.
“Watchu Say” is definitely the track that draws a parallel to ATL’s most beloved sons. It’s a song that takes some of the vague rock and funk influence that made Stankonia such an important album, and spins the record one more time. Sonically, The Knux’s version of the beat is interesting, but such proximity to the Outkast masterpiece makes it feel like they’re trying too hard. They work to separate themselves by making a more menacing flow that has a cadence along the lines of Big Boi or even Killer Mike, but is less pop friendly or absurdist and more in line with something like Three Six Mafia with way more wit (Take the line, “She’s 17, she’s underage/She’s fucking for free then she’s underpaid”). The rest of the album works toward getting away from that gargantuan shadow, with its share of small steps and leaps forward.
Case in point, small step No. 1, “Floozy”, a cousin of the hit from their first album, “Cappuccino”. It’s all about a jangly guitar and a danceable bass, complete with a sing-song chorus. Here, though, the brothers switch up their flow. They take the song’s lyrical direction into a less glorified version of “Gold Digger” (“Now how the hell can you trust this lady?/She lurks in the park, dick crazy…”) with a more bluesy, down-home delivery style that is less about the sheer velocity. Here, the backing beat, punctuated by cowbell, is a rock track through and through, something more organic for a pairing that rode to relative success on the backs of a rhythm that could come from a Louisiana dive bar circa 1950.
If “Floozy” is their rock with heart and soul, “Pop the Cork” is the brothers’ ode to club love. What was a rap song with lots of fuzzy guitars is now an early 80’s dancehall reject, with a dash of Scandinavian techno. Imagine if Rick James made spacey funk music to get close, but you’d still be missing some of that late ’80s vibe of Prince-esque synth. There is a bit of guitar, but it’s much more polished than they’ve played with. But the gimmick of the song is less cheesy and feels more like a deliberate creation than a genuine statement of “we really think this is clever.”
But it’s when the group swings for the fences, ignoring stereotypes and the intricacies of an established sound (be it theirs or that of their influences) that the EP shines. “Fruits” features Malbec, a California rock/hip-hop group that has Britpop leanings. Their ethereal vocal stylings add a unique vibe to the song, something lonely and resentful, like a restless night. There’s a real level of vulnerability that stands strong, without a lot of their rhythmic guitars or electro shenanigans. They’ve bucked a lot of the thuggish cliches while maintaining a style that is just as raw and lyrical as any Dirty South concoction.
But a song like “Fuck You” does its best to hold onto that hustler mentality. It’s a simple song, built on some heavy bass, a banging drum beat, some looped guitars and effects, and the catchiest utterance of an insult ever. It also happens to be the song where the both Lindseys show the most personality: sex-crazed thugs with lighting quick spiels that can readily slang it in a sing-song fashion. They are always capable of taking a pretty jokey concept and making it danceable, something akin to fun loving hip-hop from the late ’80s with a uniquely cynical spin.