After officially debuting as a rapper in 2018, Sima Kim reveals the sophomore EP of his alter ego Amismyk. He fashions himself a darker persona that talks brazenly about his fascination with female genitalia and distaste for personal relationships. As far as debuts go, it’s… well, it’s an interesting one.
Let’s just get it out of the way with the first track. Amismyk’s production is bananas! That almost goes without saying. So much of who he is is wrapped up in his ability to make sounds rub against each other in unexpected and downright uncomfortable ways. No matter what he does, his music is never going to let you down as an adventurous listener. In terms of the actual rapping itself, opening number “Dead Rockstar” isn’t exactly a good indication of his skills up to this point. Him pretty much droning on about how he’s a dead rockstar while letting the music take point.
The first time we actually hear him flex his muscles as a rapper comes with the next track, “Nobody.” This is when the EP starts in earnest. Lyrically, there’s not much to hold onto here. It’s a lament that’s easily identifiable — realizing the person you thought you wanted was a complete waste of your time and emotions. Then devolving into bouts of overexaggerated machismo.
Lyrics like, “I don’t like you just like your pussy” and “All little bitches crush on me” do very little to endear the MC persona to me. While there’s some universal meaning there, “Nobody” isn’t the track one would listen to for its actual content. Rather, the droning of the almost metallic delivery coupled with the thick atmospheric production does the work of making this song palatable.
One of a Kind
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on your focus) this is a trend throughout the entire EP. Lyrics that fall short of anything either interesting or impressionable. “One of a Kind” is the most effective as a legitimate “turn up” song. That is a track that would find its place in a club where twerking was the imitation of the day. But again, this has more to do with the overall mastery of Amismyk’s production. Though we’ll have to agree to disagree about his uniqueness as an MC, I can’t deny his musicality is a rarity.
Then we move on to “Without Feathers,” his duet with rapper Leni. This is by far the album’s most emotionally weighty track. It’s the first notion that Amismyk might actually be taking the craft seriously, if only for the few moments of its running time. There’s something really poignant in the push and pull of the music. As if the composition dragged the song out of Amismyk by force. It’s sluggish, but not lazy. A real emotive bit of sound nestled between work that’s seemingly more superficial.
“Swaying” ends the album on something playful. Just as with the track that opened the album, there aren’t many actual lyrics to judge it by. I’ll give the song full marks for being a bright spot on the album amidst a lot of heavy, dark, and gritty.
Bonus track “Unplugged” is another glimpse into the emotional musician that is Sima Kim. As Amismyk, he uses more of his abrasive and oftentimes cartoonish lyricism to actually express a cloudy bit of ennui on his part. Declaring, “I’m over it,” he seems to be pulling back the veneer of a wholly unserious rapper to implore us to realize this is all a sham. That he only removes his guards for someone special (“You know who I am”; “You are my everything”). Another surprising track that hints that there might be something more meaningful in his future.
“Amismyk” the MC
Let’s just make something plain, Sima (under his alter ego Amismyk) is not a rapper. If the interview we had last year holds true, he doesn’t even seem to want to be. His goal is to “have fun and make money.” He certainly appears to be taking the piss. Basking in what most consider the simplicity of rapping.
His past work, at least, suggests that he’s done the same thing. Then we get “Dead Rockstar,” which seems to indicate that he might be learning how to craft something out of his nonchalance with the genre. While it would still be a stretch to call him a rapper, I will concede that with “Dead Rockstar” Amismyk has found an amicable relationship between his very intricate production and half-serious delivery and lyricism.
His style of MC is derivative, mostly uninteresting. Those stalwart of the genre could almost be insulted. But perhaps that’s the ultimate point. In style he’s pointing out and making light of the laziness of current rap trends (what many might label “anti-rap”) perpetuated by those who, like him, claim to only want to have fun and make money. Setting himself up as an example of where hip-hop could end up under its recent title as “most popular” genre.
Listening with my eyes closed, I see a vivid image. A robot chasing his human master through the crowded streets of Tokyo. The overarching theme here is he is an animated bit of AI that has lived so long among the humans he wants to be them. He acquires/practices the language of the flesh bags. Their slang, the affected and exaggerated masques of blackness. (Something they’ve not so surreptitiously dubbed “internet language.”) He clings desperately to the hope that if he copies them enough he will eventually become one of them.
Amismyk is the robot giving chase. He wears rap at the surface like a costume. His ultimate goal is to appear to be human even as his digital mimicry of the craft glitches, rags, and stutters along. AI that’s decided it wants the feeling of being “real,” with all the flaws and seeming material reward of those who created him.
In the long run, “Dead Rockstar” is forgettable lyrically. BUT (and, yes, this is a huge “but”) you couldn’t in any good consciousness deny the innovations in composition, production, and the ability to use those innovations with a chopped, screwed, and feedback-gritty delivery. One could almost forgive the mostly stream-of-conscious but wholly derivative lyricism because the music itself is just so damn good.
For me, an album must be the full package. This almost quadruples in my mind when it comes to any of the many avenues of hip-hop. Lyricism is God in the world of an MC. However, perhaps Amismyk is attempting to make the music the focal point, throwing it all the way back to the early ’80s when the MC was almost an afterthought. I don’t know if he’s that versed in hip-hop’s history. If I were to force myself to give him a pass when it comes to the lackluster verbiage, that would be it. Otherwise, just bow down and weep at his feet for the compositional work he put together here.
“Dead Rockstar” officially releases June 15. To pre-order the album go to Sima Kim’s Bandcamp page.