Filipino rap duo Tu$ Brother$ are the type to trigger your fight-or-flight response, the same kind of impulse that breaks out a circle pit at the nearest dive bar, channeling their villainous behavior wherever they crash with the raw energy. The second word in the title, 808s & Amats, after all, is slang for being inebriated, buzzed, or even high. Their 2022 offering (and follow-up to 2019’s D.O.T.$), at best, captures this unbridled liveliness.

The Rizal province natives—who go by individually as Al Tus and Rudyrude—approach trap with diabolical whispers and earth-shaking bass kicks (often accompanied by slick visuals). Their style, an intersection of metal, rap, industrial, and emo can find an audience amongst fans, especially youngsters, with a steady diet of Bandcamp and SoundCloud more than other platforms.

Sonically speaking, the duo aren’t spinning the wheel and make up adequately with their striking visuals and enigmatic personality. Lyrically, the 6-track EP is also not entirely unique.

EP opener “WAIT” is an edge-to-your-seat trap banger that’s siphoned from the horrorcore of the early 2010s, reminiscent of Lil Ugly Mane, clipping. and Backxwash, rapping with misanthropic undertones. The production choices don’t offer too much flourish as the track reveals Tu$ Brother$’ weakness: their voices.

Paranoia-inducing beats, car-alarm noises ringing in synthesizers, $uicideboys-esque yawps and unhinged flows mostly define the latest Tu$ Brother$’ project. Borderline fatalistic and reckless, the duo showcases what they can deliver in terms of shock value. Even so, their formulaic triplet flows, originating from Southern rap in the US, are flagrant throughout the entire project. But their vocals aren’t justified to be on par with the sonic chaos that is 808s & Amats.

“Isagad” (To The Limit) shares a similar cadence to A$AP Rocky’s Skepta-assisted “Praise Da Shine,” but minus the charm: the first verse in that track acts as a filler verse for Al Tus and Rudyrude. The song then culminates into anthemic chants of “isagad” and “sumagad.”

However, the similarities of cadence abruptly transitioned to the next track titled “8BALL,” arguably the EP’s weakest and filler-heavy track. The latter half, on the other hand (“FALSE ALARM,” “LAGAPAKK,” and lead single “RUN”), exemplify their ability as rappers who are about to wear out those influences.

Overall, 808s and Amats is an attempt to follow the large footsteps of its Memphis rap and horrorcore influences but ultimately falls short. If anything, Tu$ Brother$’ image as models of goth-influenced horrorcore is played out—they’re years behind the game. Its strongest moments are found in the production work in the latter half, suggesting that there’s promise lingering from the duo’s capabilities.

Rating: 3 out of 5