Red Pill is the patron saint of a poisoned world. The blue-collar Michigan MC writes spiteful chants for the permanently scarred, death letters for the forgotten, surly hymns for charcoal lungs. Think Bukowski on an eloquent bender, swapping wine for whiskey, a notepad for a glowing LED screen, the race track for the recording booth. These are anthems for the irate, over-educated and under-valued.
Over his last three albums ("Look At What The World Did To Us," "Instinctive Drowning," "Day Drunk") Ferndale's Chris Orrick has embodied the idea that all great art is a form of complaint. Before the alienation of the Midwestern working class became a top political cliche of 2016, the pundits could've learned everything from a quick study of his back catalogue. Pill made the generational manifestos of an ex-machinist in his mid-20s, saddled with crippling debt, substance addictions, depression, and dim job prospects. Thoreau's quiet desperation turned into a bitter yawp. He makes hip-hop to give Horatio Alger a stone cold stunner. He prophesized an American dream that swiftly turned dystopian. Then he'll balance it out by rhyming "listening to Bitches Brew," with "eating chicken vindaloo." Somehow, it puts the fun back in dysfunction.
As Pitchfork said, "his pain never feels like a put on." XXL declared "if Red Pill is not on your radar, it's time to change that." He combines the emotional chaos of early Atmosphere with the incisive satire of Open Mike Eagle. If escapism is our most sought-after currency, this is the opposite. It's serious as a third-degree burn, real as roadkill, poignant chronicles of our domestic failures. The late night conversations you have with your closest friends, your defenses down, glass bottles and cigarette boxes stacked, infidelities and flaws openly admitted.
We need artists like Red Pill and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. In a world of constant lies and artifice, his music cuts through the banality and reveals what's most important -- the search for meaning in the meaningless, the notion that there has to be something better than this, the idea that despite of all this madness, we can find fleeting shards of solace. He'll tell you a story about chronic genetic alcoholism and then offer a toast, write songs about certain death but allow for the possibility of healing through music. He understands the complexities and contradictions of life as well as anyone, but would never openly admit that. As for everything else, that's fair game.