Tim Stiles – Cicada Exoskeletons (2021)
By Andrea Bartunek
On his most recent album, Cicada Exoskeletons, Seattle hip hop artist Tim Stiles continues to flex his intelligent and lyrically eloquent underground rap skills.
The record begins with “Froggy Window,” which exemplifies his ability to deliver intellectually stimulating prose, while also embracing the elements of production necessary to get heads bobbing along.
Each track has an underlying activist message even if it’s just about frogs or dinosaurs, like album standout “Jurassic Dark.” But really, when you listen close, you recognize his educated perspective on things like mental health, police brutality, and environmentalism. The lyrics, style and delivery used by Stiles is clever and funny to me, it literally makes me laugh out loud. The album especially shines on the track “Private Parts” with underground legend The Grouch, known for his work with Atmosphere and Living Legends.
The beats and production are super fun, with infectious rhythyms and synth flowing through the instrumentation and piano. Plus, he throws in nostalgic audio clips like some random Anchorman samples on the track “Swell In My Gut.”
If you are a fan of Sage Francis or Brother Ali, you’ll love Tim Stiles. He’s smart and silly, in all of the best possible ways.
Cicada Exoskeletons is available now on all streaming platforms. A Limited Edition Double Vinyl LP version is also releasing early 2022. Limited to 300 copies, you can preorder the vinyl now at Tim’s Bandcamp page.
Check out the teaser of the official video for “Jar of Fireflies” (releasing this October) on YouTube.
Check out more from Tim Stiles on his social media and streaming sites: