The New Yorker has finally gotten his flowers as one of the finest MCs in the contemporary underground after a cool couple decades grinding it out with his label, Backwoodz Studioz; 2021’s Haram, from Woods’ Armand Hammer duo with E L U C I D, felt like a high watermark for a new NY scene. On Aethiopes, Woods’ first solo album since 2019, he recruits producer Preservation, a fellow NY scene veteran known for his work with Yasiin Bey and Ka; his haunted beats set an unsettling scene for Woods’ evocative stories, which span childhood bedrooms and Egyptian deserts. The guest list doubles as a who’s who of underground rap—EL-P, Boldy James, E L U C I D—but Woods holds his own at the center of it all. As he spits on the stunningly skeletal “Remorseless”: “Anything you want on this cursed earth/Probably better off getting it yourself, see what it’s worth.”

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