Will the world end by the year 2013? According to local left-field hip-hop duo Junc Ops, the answer is a resounding yes. Conceived by producers PG-13 (a.k.a. Paul Gaeta) and Kentsoundz (Kent Hernandez), Junc Ops' debut album, 2013, is striving to put the weird back into the Magic City's hip-hop landscape. "The album's main theme," says PG-13, "is that the end is near, so let's live and love and celebrate our time here and be grateful for good friends and family."
Formed last year as an off-the-cuff side project, Junc Ops seems like a throwback to the early days of hip-hop, a time when conspiracy theories, karate movies, and science fiction were central topics for ganja-loving street poets. According to PG-13, the album's title refers to an ancient Mayan prophesy by Pacal Votan, a mystic who predicted the world's end by 2013. Whether PG-13 and Kentsoundz truly believe in the Mayan prophecy is uncertain; what's clear is they enjoy running with the apocalyptic premise, giving an air of X Files-style paranoia to the records' fast-paced 15 tracks.
While the rhymes are a reminder of hip-hop's past, the breakbeats are as futuristic as it gets. As a longtime producer of exotic beats, PG-13 — named Best Local Electronica Artist by Miami New Times — is well known for crafting hypnotizing instrumental tracks reminiscent of progressive hip-hop artists like Prefuse 73. For his part, Kentsoundz is a veteran of the Miami indie circuit, having formed, produced, and remixed several groups. His recent independent remix of the Brazilian Girls song "Pussy" drew raves from the critically acclaimed band and gives the new album a melodious hip-hop vibe.
Together the two create an extremely esoteric sound, full of wayward high-pitch synthesizers and robotic blipping bells that somehow achieve a pleasant melodic tone. But the big surprise of 2013 is not the sharp, futuristic production. Rather, the true revelation turns out to be Kentsoundz and PG-13's ease on the mike. For instance, take the title song, wherein PG-13 uses his sharp, nasal voice to let loose a torrent of rhymes dealing with government conspiracies, killer vaccines, and spying satellites, while Kentsoundz uses a vocoder effect to deliver the chorus "Karma is a bitch, all hail the machine."
Other cuts like "Rock Bottom" change the album's pace and lyrical style, with PG-13 delving into tales of hard living and despair. Yet the fresh production lends even the darkest songs a cool, undeniably danceable tap. And the anything-goes vibe of the eco-conscious track "Transformation" makes it clear the duo still holds hope for the future, however uncertain it may be.