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Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 29, 2012 at 10:17 AM

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Album review: 'Black Narcissus' by Seattle's Nacho Picasso

Warning: swearing

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Nacho Picasso "Black Narcissus" (self-released / Alive and Well)

Seattle may be nationally famous for Macklemore, a middle class rapper who makes gay-marriage anthems, but locally the appetite exists — or should I say rap-etite — for something darker and less morally upstanding. In that lane, Nacho Picasso is our new anti-hero: a party-hardy street-boss misogynist, whose songs are full of dark humor.

"Black Narcissus" is his third album of 2012, fifth in two years, and best yet. Eight lyrically sharp songs (plus one remix) of dirgelike, electronic-tinged rap music.

"Cover Me In Gold" is the key track. It might seem like it's about being flashy, but really it's about Nacho saying he feels like "an orphan," a vulnerability that might underpin his general hardness and continuous sex brags. Rhymed with "cover me in gold / 'til I feel I'm important," the effect is funny and sad, like he's parodying #raplife and also enjoying it.

As the music goes on, darkness pervades. Producers Eric G and Raised byy Wolves make the beats into a Gotham version of Seattle where the sun never shines — a twisted, shadowy place that's good to visit in binges. And Nacho becomes progressively more silly and weird. He samples Pee-wee Herman, and goes out of his way to say "gluteus maximus" and "wenches" instead of ruder, more common rapper words. He talks often about European mythology.

He's risen to prominence in the past two years locally, and it's easy to see him as a counterweight to earnest idealism. But Nacho's no mascot. His interests in unusual words and the ways of the gods indicate his individuality. And he's getting national attention in SPIN, Vice and Complex not because of how he functions in Seattle, but because he's great at rapping and his music has a memorable vibe. If you're unacquainted, now's the time.

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