After a couple months of teasers and much antipation, acclaimed Palestinian experimental hip-hop producer, Muqata’a, has finally released his 8-track fifth studio album, Kamil Manqus — translating to ‘whole imperfect’ or ‘perfect imperfect’ from Arabic, — on Italian label Hundebiss Records, who also handled the vinyl release of 2019’s Sindibad El Wardi by fellow Palestinian hip-hop artists, Shabjdeed and Al Nather.
Based off blown-out jungle influences on the lead single, ‘Dirasat ‘Ulya’, which released in December of last year, Kamil Manqus had presented the initial impression of a major sonic shift for the Palestinian artist, further cemented by the second single, ‘Ikmal’, with channeling distorted, high-speed trap influences and frequent beat switch-ups indicative of a major energetic shift in comparison to Muqata’a’s (comparatively)s lower and methodical boom-bap tinged 2018 album Inkanakuntu.
Muqata’a’s hip-hop inclinations still come out in full force on Kamil Manqus, with the cacophonous breakbeats of ‘Dirasat ‘Ulya’ and the fourth track ‘Bilharf Alwahad’ acting as energetic highpoints amidst gritty trap percussion, stuttering hi-hats and speaker rattling 808s, all but replacing the airy boom-bap percussion heard on previous works.
Tracks like ‘Simya’ present the most immediately recognizable traces of hip hop, with warped vocal samples and an infectious violin sample chop looping in the background harkening it back to the era of late-90s early-2000s hip hop sampling. Inversely, the penultimate track ‘Tanqeeb’ stretches the genre to it’s experimental fringes, deconstructing conventional trap structures into abrasive soundscapes filled with wailing vocals, sci-fi inspired synthesisers, and waves of granular noise.
Alongside the slow burning, dancehall-tinged bounce of the second track’ Shah’an Fa Shay’an’, by far the outlier amidst the largely beat-focused rest of the album is ‘Ma Wara’’, which sits — constrastingly — between the two jungle excursions on the album. Here, the predominantly ambient tune slowly reshapes itself along rhythmic lines over its duration, with the kick drums laying low in favor of a more spacious arrangement. None of the intensity is lost though, with the metallic scrape of knife-like hi-hats continuing an ominous energy throughout alongside surging 808.
Compared to the regal, almost ‘triumphant’ instrumentation that persisted throughout much of Inkanakuntu, Kamil Manqus presents a deeper exploration of thoroughly dark and introspective sonic territories, anchored by the noise of sliced up radio samples, and nearly omnipresent voices subtly mixed throughout the length of the project, tieing in intimately with the album’s occult themes of numerology and communion generations long past.
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