SPOTLIGHT: The Historian Himself

Band/Artist: The Historian Himself

Country: The United States

Members: Brian Engh

Active Since: 2009

Genre: Experimental Hip-hop, Delta Blues

FFO: What might happen if Son House and Tom Waits had a rap battle.

I am endlessly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of It Djents. I love being a member of a community that celebrates progressive music and connects over it. But it can also be challenging; sometimes, finding the energy to appreciate and analyze music in the way that it deserves can be draining. Not so long ago, I was feeling particularly fatigued and inattentive to music and other parts of my life. It was in the midst of this that Inter, our PR manager and all-around music connoisseur, recommended that I check out an artist called The Historian Himself.

What I heard blew me away. It seemed like the Earth, having soaked up centuries of pain, violence and exploitation, finally cracked open and spoke. I was instantly excited, astounded and reinvigorated. Gather Bones, The Historian Himself’s 2015 concept album, combines Delta blues, mysticism and hip-hop with spoken word poetry in a way that is haunting, powerful, and one of the most experimental, progressive ventures I have heard in a very long time. Yet, with all its innovation, the music still manages to be accessible. This is perhaps due to the presence of traditional hip-hop verse/chorus song structures and a clear understanding of melodic hooks, even when the melodies are accompanied by lyrics like ‘Oh I don’t know/What shall we do with all these bodies?/Oh I don’t know/Perhaps we’ll build a church out of their bones’. In his complex wordplay and narrative verses, Engh crafts stories of historical oppression, religious persecution and paranormal experience into a captivating, interlocking tale over humble production and a variety of minimalist, haunting soundscapes. Spiritual and political in nature, The Historian Himself’s lyrics connected with my passion for social justice and storytelling without ever sounding contrived or self-righteous.

Brian Engh, the creator behind The Historian Himself, expresses his creativity in a plethora of ways, from hip-hop to captivating art and truly stunning, bold music videos. Though far and away from most conceptualizations of hip-hop, his powerful self-expression and skill merit attention from all fans of progressive and honest music. I hope that my personal testimony and the music you may have heard here have intrigued you enough to check this artist out.

All music by The Historian Himself is available for free download on his website. You can also check out Engh’s other artistic ventures there. You can support Engh through Patreon if you are invested in his artistic vision, and you can also receive some special perks. To stay up to date with his output, you can follow The Historian Himself on Facebook and YouTube. His music can also be found on Bandcamp.

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