The Bug’s Hip-Hop Narcotic Vol. 1

For 20 years, Kevin Martin has explored the sonics of urban decay as The Bug. Most recently, that’s arrived in the form of his ground-shaking collaboration with Dylan Carlson of drone metal outfit Earth.

Martin’s music is most often rooted in the deep bass and reverb-heavy drum sound of dub reggae, giving the style a cavernous, concrete makeover better suited to city streets. So, stylistically, hip hop isn’t necessarily the first sonic palette that comes to mind when one thinks of Martin’s work. But when tasked with making a playlist for Crack magazine, that’s exactly where he went.

The playlist offers insight into Martin’s work as The Bug as a kind of production roadmap. Featuring cuts from Public Enemy to Cannibal Ox, and newcomers like Vince Staples, Hip Hop Narcotic Vol. 1 is a throughline in dense production styles. After you hear Jahlil Beats’ air-raid sirens follow Bobby Shmurda, or the thick hallucinatory cloud of El-P’s dank influence hovering over Cannibal Ox America, hip-hop will no longer seem like a complete world away from what The Bug is doing. If anything, these artists see the same darkness down their own city streets.