10. Old Grape God (25.5 points)
SOUNDS LIKE: All the voices in your head rapping simultaneously.
NOTABLE VOTES: Producer Neill Von Tally, promoter Coco Madrid, music video director Noah Porter.
Old Grape God's gloriously confounding brand of cosmic hip-hop doesn't offer up too many direct statements of purpose, but on 2016's Trøntønømø Bay, the man also known as Tron Burgundy lets it be known where he's coming from: "I live between your skull and your soul," he slurs on the typically trippy "Urth City Hues."
That line is a pretty apt description of Old Grape God's music, a blur of stream-of-consciousness wordplay and blissed-out textures that should come with a warning for listeners prone to panic and dissociation. It can and will send you on a trip into the part of yourself that lives between the eternal and finite, between inchoate thought and limiting language.
When pressed, Old Grape God will cop to affinities with Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Sun Ra and Gil Scott-Heron. But he does so with the wistful knowledge that whatever universal force animated those icons has dissipated in recent decades.
"There's not gonna be another Jimi," he says. "There's not gonna be another Sun Ra. There's not gonna be another Miles. The 2000s are the time of the second-best. We're losing the pure spirit of it because everything's turned to data."
As if attempting to single-handedly coax that spirit back to life, Old Grape God, who recorded his first song on the symbolically loaded day of Dec. 21, 2012—the date of the alleged Mayan apocalypse—already has 11 releases under his belt, with side projects, clothing lines and books waiting in the wings. He is busy, and he plans to stay that way.
"You gotta keep making as much shit as possible," he says. "How you put it out is up to you. If anyone wants to be able to talk to themselves better, if you're an artist in any way, you just gotta keep making shit, because you're just learning your own language better. It takes a long time to be able to explain yourself to yourself."
NEXT GIG: March 31 at the Fixin' To.