The last time we talked to Denver-based artist Sole he thought he had turned into Federal Reserve chariman Ben Bernanke, but the real Sole is back and this time he's promoting his upcoming album "A Ruthless Criticism Of Everything Existing" with a surprising video released from his website Soleone.org.
Sole, who appears in the video, is nearly entirely obscured both visually and aurally. His face is covered by a black mask and his words are spoken by what sounds like a voice synthesizer that is more often heard in a news release from hactivist collective Anonymous.
Sole describes the new album in the video:
"A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing" is the culmination and logical progression of all the various aesthetics and approaches I have cultivated over the years. This album is at times sarcastic, belligerent, serious, poetic, and abstract. I rap about rappers, I rap about the empire, I rap about capitalism, labor, alienation and the environment. I offer critiques, I offer solutions. Sonically, this album bounces between classic hip-hop, electronica, and experimental dance, traditional song formats and tracks that barely resemble songs. When I think about the artists that inspire me, I look to Pete Seeger, Chuck D, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor; musicians who never let the immediate needs of the market dictate what they created.
The video's style should come as no surprise from Sole, a prominent member of Occupy Denver, and an artist who has continually -- and beautifully -- made politics and social issues a part of his music, pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop sounds and looks like.
A lot has changed for Sole since his last solo album, 2005's "Live From Rome," and Sole briefly explains his new situation in the video:
I left Anticon, the label I founded with the Pedestrian, and took 100 percent control of my masters. I spend less time touring, and more time reading, gardening and working on random activist projects around Denver. In 2007, I formed Sole and The Skyrider Band. We made three albums, toured sporadically, until finally going on hiatus in 2011. Around 2009, I launched a series of "mainstream" rap mixtapes called Nuclear Winter, which took popular songs and transformed them to reflect more radical, critical and often contrary themes than the originals. Between those projects, I continued to hone my production skills with the more experimental project "Man's Best Friend." Sometimes I go half a year without making a song, sometimes I'll record three songs in a day. When you work for yourself you do what the fuck you want, when you want, when you feel so inspired.