Image Conscious(ness) 

SLC underground rapper Concise Kilgore has only his words, and the images they conjure.

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Local underground rapper Concise Kilgore once told City Weekly that he "spits random cool shit that rhymes." Asked to explain, Concise says, "I like to use colorful, descriptive words that you may not have heard."

Words you may not have heard. The rhyme is unintentional. The words just came out.

The track list for his third album, Kil Joy Division (Pink Cookies), gets your imagination working, evoking indiscriminate imagery like a Mexican Viking afterlife, defunct English post-punk bands, Mayan ruins, the Easter Bunny, snakes, pills and compensatory wheels. A list of corresponding song titles is not forthcoming. For now, Concise Kilgore is saying how his lyrics float toward him on the stream of consciousness. And, for that reason, he likes listeners to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of his words. You know, like they're standing on the bank of the same stream on a different plane, incidentally encountering them.

That free-floating feeling permeates Kil Joy Division. It's as loose as it is tight. It can be atmospheric background music or a full-immersion experience. Tones change within tunes. They might come on strong, like the dark, distorted pulse of the title track, a sonic allusion to the titular reference, then dissipate into sublime trance sounds and, finally, only the sound of a random candid moment from Concise's life. Or, like on "Easter Pink"—which is actually about sex—it starts slow, builds to a certain rhythmic intensity, then pumps hard to the finish line.

Floating between randomness and precision might seem contradictory. Opposites, however, go together. So when, in "Ochoa Valhalla," Concise raps, "I don't write/ it's more like archery/ my arrows pierce your chest plate/ and slump you at high velocity," then claims to have freestyled lines like, "piff fuchsia/ fluorescent fill-ins futura/ Fab Five formaldehyde/ freakin' Kama Sutra," it's just two sides of one guy. The constant, according to Concise, is "imagery. I like to create imagery."

So you might play Kil Joy Division while doing odd jobs around the house. During its relatively lean 30-minute run time, you lose the thread as you ebb away from your speakers, but pick up snapshots as you flow back. Later, you might be at work, captive at your desk and tethered by earbuds to the music. That's when you get the full picture.

"It's like jigsaw puzzles to me," Concise says. "That's basically how I write. If I'm tellin' a general story, I get direct and straight to the point."

At the same time, he likes pulling things out of the air and piecing them together. "If it's one of these songs where I can play with these crazy words, I'd rather play with these crazy words, and make you form an image for yourself. 'Cause it's all different. It's all subjective. I see it as [me meaning one thing] and a listener might see it as something totally different."

So on "Chichen Itza," guest emcee Tristate—sounding like Doug E. Fresh tripping balls in limbo—repeatedly laments pre-adolescent smoking (or something). Then comes Concise, painting pictures with his crazy words. Those pictures aren't of the mysterious ruins, beaches and turquoise water he saw when he visited Chichen Itza, but rather random images of Carhartt, ammunition, animals, weather, breakbeats and death adders.

That's Concise's process. During the day, working at a 9-to-5 job that keeps him moving all day, he plucks words or phrases out of the air, puts them to scraps of paper, then "I'll empty my pockets when I get home." With the scraps in front of him, he assembles the words in a way that pleases him—and, hopefully, satisfies his listeners. "If somebody else is listenin' to this, like another emcee or somethin', [I want them to say], 'Damn. He took his time to write this.'"

Kil Joy Division finds Concise achieving that aim. Open to interpretation, it's immensely enjoyable, with infinite replay value, as each new listen holds a new image for the listener. An image formed from words. Concise is all about his. "Yeah, that's all [a rapper] has."

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More by Randy Harward

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