Baltimore is a place where eccentrics have an unusually strong sense of community, forming musical alliances around a shared sense of individuality. So when someone in the city appears out of the ether like a true outsider, it’s impressive, as though they’ve had to put in more effort to be truly isolated from all the other more sociable weirdos. Such is the case with Warehouse, a self-proclaimed “pyschedelia rapper” who says he’s been honing his craft for nine years, and finished his new album “The Destruction” back in 2010, but never released it in any substantial way until it was uploaded to YouTube in its entirety a few weeks ago.
Warehouse sets the tone for “The Destruction” with the opening track, ‘Come With Me (Lesbian Seagull),’ which samples a surreal novelty song Engelbert Humperdinck recorded for the movie “Beavis And Butthead Do America.” Despite the goofy track, Warehouse’s vow that “I’m just tryin’ to save hip-hop” sounds sincere, and from there the album constantly veers between earnest and abstract, often both profound and puerile at the same time. It’s the kind of uneven tone that could easily undo a rap record, but Warehouse’s steady flow and unique turns of phrase carry the album.
The self-produced beats on “The Destruction” are unapologetically lo-fi but also ambitious, with cheap-sounding drums tumbling into intricate patterns and seasick synths perfectly matching the sarcastic self-pity of the lyrics. The silly pop culture samples, like “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” on ‘Guzzle Down Sweets’ or Pac-Man sound effects on ‘Suckfest,’ feel less like grabs at quirky singles and more like dispatches from the inside of a TV-riddled brain. After all, this is a guy who’s vlogged about WWE wrestling on the same YouTube account he used to upload the album.
“The Destruction” sounds oddly timely for an album that’s been in the can for a few years, with its eerie ambiance, shock-value lyrics, and self-consciously shrill aesthetic winding up not far from the last few waves of Tumblr rap. The only thing that dates the material is references on ‘No Moonlight’ and ‘All A Dream’ to the then-approaching 2012 Mayan apocalypse. Warehouse made a grim album about how he or the entire world may come to an end before anyone has a chance to hear his songs. And since neither of those things happened, we can only hope he’s taken that as a sign to keep chasing his compellingly offbeat muse.