Moodie Black make amends without making apologies

K Death of Moodie Black

K Death of Moodie Black Jamee Varda

Moodie Black have prevailed as a force of discontent.

They’ve countered those who’ve refused them with cacophonous energy, pounding their critiques into sand with walls of broken drums and inscrutable vocals. When the Minneapolis hip-hop scene rejected them, they went further afield, scorching earth with their wailing tirades. Lead MC K Death has been blacklisted and embittered. For a stretch, they were a liability on any mic they were handed. Now, with the release of Moodie’s new LP Lucas Acid, they’re finally coming to terms with why.

“I’m trying to get over being bitter and angry,” K says. “For a while, I got caught up in that, ‘Oh, we’re the greatest thing ever.’ I’ve eradicated that.” This feeling is broadcasted bluntly on “Parished,” where K raps, “I cringe when burning different/ I don’t feel like Jesus that I used to, I am finished.”

Lucas Acid is the several-times-delayed personal opus K’s been laboring over since going public as transgender three years ago. On Friday, they’ll debut the record before their adoptive hometown at Icehouse, and the hope is that they can reclaim some of the good will they’ve lost.

Since moving back to Minneapolis is 2016, Moodie Black have quit chasing the backpack rap scene that rejected them in the early aughts. They’ve been running with DIY punks like New Primals, Contentious, and Xochi de la Luna; underground hardcore band MURF is opening the Icehouse gig. Going back to playing basement shows has rejuvenated K.

“Being in with the punk and the queer scene has given us new life locally,” K says. “Here in the Cities, there’s a really awesome queer and trans scene. They see past the static of me not fitting into a certain thing. They see me, and they just accept it.”

K has always struggled identifying with groups. They’ve always been some combination of too black, too Mexican, or too queer for any one movement. Their enigmatic gender presentation and surly disposition has even clashed with the queer community—Billboard Pride turned their pitch for coverage down because Moodie Black was “too far outside [their] wheelhouse.”

Given the current political climate, K has never had a better excuse to release an album full of inflammatory screeds and tour the country on a warpath. Instead, Lucas Acid is Moodie Black’s most inward album. K claims they’re “unable to do accessible shit,” but their lyrics here lay at the surface as they struggle with their fears (“Tuesday”), a broken relationship (“Palm Trees”), and professional envy (“Vanowen”).

“The weird thing about the record is that it’s really vulnerable,” K says. “It’s not about proving anything to anyone. This is unsure and vulnerable.”

The emotional core of Lucas Acid is “Sway,” an in-your-face shoegaze dirge where K proudly sheds society’s judgement of what a trans body should look like. They repurpose the commodity of “swag,” transforming it into “sway,” cleansing it of judgmental masculinity.

Similarly, the album title Lucas Acid is a play on Lucas Acidito, a spicy, tamarind-flavored Mexican candy that K consumed habitually during their childhood in Texas and Arizona. In 2004, Lucas Acidito was pulled from the U.S. market for its dangerously high lead content.

“That was a good metaphor for how I grew up socialized as a male,” K says. “It was good for me because I was safe, but it was also poisonous because it killed off a lot of who I was. This record is me reclaiming my childhood self that I couldn’t be.”

K had to force themselves to cut this close to the heart. They suppressed their instinct to code, going so far as to adopt mainstream hip-hop tropes to communicate more directly. At times, K bites their delivery from Lil’ Wayne. On “Vanowen,” they closely mirror Kanye West’s flow from “Black Skinhead.” Sure, they’re rapping about their panties and getting their penis tuck just right, but borrowing mainstream hip-hop styles gives K a common language to reach people with.

At the core of K’s discontent has always been their impossibly high standards. On past records, it’s manifested in perilous outbursts. They admit the persistent chip on their shoulder is “probably a personality flaw,” but with the release of Lucas Acid, K feels comfortable and confident enough in their skin to admit it.

Still K isn’t apologizing for being pissed off all these years. They still think Moodie Black should be playing bigger stages. They’re still convinced other bands are getting more opportunities for keeping it less real. That discontent has to remain. It’s the one thing in K’s DNA that they fully understand.

“I can’t be comfortable. Even now, when I walk out this door, I can’t be comfortable,” K says. “[Lucas Acid] is about me trying to own my space and being like, ‘Well this is what I am, and I don’t really know what the fuck it is.’”

Moodie Black
With: Ceschi, MURF, Goodrich
Where: Icehouse
When: 10:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23
Tickets: 21+; $8 advance, $10 at the door; more info here