Icecoldbishop is suffering from a generational curse handed down by the government. It’s no secret the U.S. government has directly supplied black neighborhoods with guns and drugs. The CIA deals with drug cartels and sells them to dealers who cut the product with cheap agents to provide desperate addicts in suffering neighborhoods. It’s a nasty trade for the sake of capitalism. Icecoldbishop feels like the ever-growing boiling point of anger manifesting in the heart of Los Angeles, fueled by broken dreams, addiction, and death. On his debut album, GENERATIONAL CURSE, he tells a multitude of stories revolving around the struggles in his childhood, attempting to process the trauma with bleak, yet heart-wrenchingly honest songwriting.
Bishop’s frantic raps release through many voices, ranging from broken and hoarse, to high-pitched and piercingly distorted. There’s a strong resemblance to an early Kendrick Lamar: a socially conscious warrior describing the ins and outs of his city, from gang territory to family members getting high off opiates and PTSD-induced paranoia ruining your well-being.
“Victim of a genocide when n****s ride, but why we die n***a I don’t know,” Bishop ruminates on the opener “Full Fledge.” His voice sounds inflated by helium, slowly seeping out the air as he double downs on the cycle of violence he’s trapped in. It’s a brutal reality glorified by rap audiences while the performers are demonized. Bishop can connect audiences with the life and death factors written in these songs through a dynamic performance on top of bone-breaking production. “Kitchen smellin’ like paint thinner,” he exclaims on “CANDLELIGHT” with enough poignant imagery to induce headaches.
The south-central rapper’s music feels like a live vlog of what the news fails to report. It’s an alarming example of the criminal marginalization of black communities through the trafficking of guns and drugs. On the abrasive “THE GOV’T GAVE US GUNS” Bishop points the finger at the government for being the hood’s supplier in the first place. “I just bought a muthafuckin Draco today,” he repeatedly says like a traumatized soldier. While Bishop uses most of the songs to tell the stories of his family and peers directly affected by state and federal corruption, he keeps his west coast DNA within the music. G-funk-influenced beats produced by Kyla Moscovich, IAMNOBODI, and Naz can be heard on tracks like “D.A.R.E,” “TIL THE END,” and “FOCUSED,” calling back to the days of Death Row records.
There’s no sugarcoating on GENERATIONAL CURSE, just a person facing the realities of being a product of their environment. He talks about his uncle sniffing half a gram of coke and selling dope on “BAD INFLUENCES FROM MY UNCLE,” which spirals into a tale about revenge; blood for blood, eye for an eye. It’s an eye-opening account of what happens daily in the streets without remorse.
GENERATIONAL CURSE is a unique project from performance to production, especially regarding debuts in 2023. The music sounds fresh; it’s layered and anchored by its willingness to be heard. While Bishop adds plenty of social commentary throughout the songs, it never feels corny or shoved down your throat. Bishop’s storytelling is exceptional, learning from generations of west coast emcees who created the blueprint. GENERATIONAL CURSE excites the future, and for Bishop, the future couldn’t be brighter.