CunninLynguists – Oneirology


For this post, I’m going to forgo the traditional artist’s header for the album’s artwork. Done by loish, an artist I’ve been a fan of for a while, it’s an incredible piece of work. This is how you do album art. I want a vinyl of the album for the 10″x 10″ picture alone. In fact, a poster print would be awesome. And, of course, it goes perfectly with the music.

I’m not MCWN’s resident hip-hop man. In fact, I’m probably the least-informed writer for this site when it comes to hip-hop. I feel like I have to say this as a disclaimer. I’m not ignorant of the genre, but I don’t follow it closely either. CunninLynguists came across my radar a while ago when I heard their mixtape A Strange Journey: Volume Two. Sadly, I never followed up on listening to their full albums and Oneirology is the first studio album I’ve actually heard from them. I am not presenting this as an object of authority (not that I ever am), I am only presenting as a fan.

Oneirology is the study of dreams. Its the theme that ties the album together. From the lyrics to the beats, this is a late-night album. Credit goes to rapper/producer Kno for the deep, bassy beats that give the album it’s 3:00am quality. Kno’s production has been behind a lot of CunninLynguist’s albums and Oneirology is only proof that he’s ascended to a level of craft that far outreaches a lot of other producers.  It’s one of the most consistently atmospheric works I’ve heard out of hip-hop. With somber strings and cool synths overlaying most tracks, it has a unique sense of movement. This isn’t, strictly speaking, a concept album but it does have a flow and sound worthy of being a singular work. You know, the way an album should be considered.



The best place to start with this one is the album’s first track and introduction: “Predormitum (Prologue).”  Kicking off the album with the sounds of a stormy night and an organ, it’s clear that this is no light ride.

“I had a funny dream the other night.”

And in come the drums. Natti’s first verse is a strong one and I recommend checking the lyrics here. Copping sailor imagery, there’s an element of exploration in the lyrics. It’s a great way to introduce the dream concept, as if we’re joining the voyage they’re taking in their own minds. There’s the famous Biggie sample, “it was all a dream” but the last word’s not there, in a curious and ominous hangup. This comes in strongly at the end of the song, as its used to segue to the next song “Darkness (Dream On),” Kno flips the line using it to say “it was all Darkness.”

Before the song’s over, Natti and Deacon trade lines. Natti’s last verse is a short one, but it’s one that wraps up the song perfectly:

“So all welcome to this generous helping of self reflection
night thoughts brought to life with incandescence
as the twirls on the tip of our index
staring into space one’s vision is endless”

There are a lot of other tracks worth checking out. “Stars Shine Brightest (In the Darkest of Night)” has Kno at the top of his game production-wise, with starry guitar samples icing over everything. Rick Warren’s hook on this one’s great, too. “Dreams” has boisterous horns that somehow still manage to stay moody and album-closer “Embers” has a beautiful sample and two top-notch verses from Natti and Kno.

But in one of the more interesting conceits of the album, the rappers take on different personalities in “Hard as They Come (Part 1)” and “Murder (Part 2).” In the first, Natti, Kno, and Freddie Gibbs position themselves as killers in the hood, though not in the way you’d expect–Freddie’s crack, Natti’s hard liquor, and Kno’s HIV. It’s a great take on a pretty played out concept in rap. In “Murder,” Big Krit positions himself as  a governmental warhawk in the first verse. In the second, Natti responds as the devil:

“didn’t you hear? I ain’t worried about the views of the public and peers
shit, Hitler was once Time mags’ Man of the Year
I’ma get it with hope while I’m peddlin’ fear”

If that hasn’t served to pique your interest enough, there’s not much more I can do but point you to CunninLynguist’s bandcamp, where you can stream the whole album for free before you decide you want to purchase it.

mp3: {Predormitum (Prologue)} (rightclick>saveas…)


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2 Responses to CunninLynguists – Oneirology

  1. Kilo P says:

    I’m definitely going to get this. If you are interested in their other albums you should check out A Piece of Strange, it’s probably the closest to this album in terms of sound, and seems to be considered their best album by fans. I’m more of a Will Rap For Food guy, but APOS is excellent front to back.

    • Samuel says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure why I never got around to listening to their albums. I’m definitely planning on checking out their other stuff. Thanks for the recs, Kilo.

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