GATHER BONES by The Historian Himself

gather bones

Genre: Abstract Hip Hop, Spoken Word

Favorite Tracks: “Hungry Forever More,” “Ghost Elk”

What happens when you remove hip hop entirely from the black neighborhoods that formed it? If you change the musical influences, subject matter, and even the tempo, can you really classify something within that genre anymore? The Historian Himself seems to think so, and his new record, GATHER BONES, is (if nothing else) genre-defying. Focusing on ancient human history and accompanied by strange, pagan beats, Historian Himself’s husky voice moans through the steady dirge of unsettling tracks that make up GATHER BONES. Fans of traditional hip hop will most likely find Historian’s stream of consciousness delivery and nature samples more than a little silly, and independent/alternative hip hop fans may be more than a little jarred by just how much Historian Himself wears his influences on his sleeve. However, when taken in as its own work, GATHER BONES is a weird and bleak foray into human history and our more primal tendencies.


The Historian Himself is a rapper/painter/filmmaker based out of Los Angeles, although his art focuses primarily on nature, ancient superstitions, and death imagery (not topics that are generally associated with the City of Angels.) His low voice, flow, and singing style are all instantly reminiscent of fellow ragged-voiced, abstract MC Astronautalis; the kind of knee-jerk association one can’t help but make between Action Bronson and Ghostface Killah. However, Historian’s need to string dense, dark, and cerebral lyrics along for extensive verses draws immediate associations with rappers like Busdriver and Aesop Rock; it’s very clear to any hip hop head where Historian comes from. All this being said, is there any other rapper who routinely invokes pagan rituals in his tracks? Despite his obvious influences, Historian Himself is a truly one of a kind rapper purely in terms of subject matter. Even though he raps almost exclusively about death, it’s a completely different take than the entertaining, blood-n-guts style of horrorcore.


It’s a strange association, hip hop about nature and “sacred realms”, but not necessarily a bad one. There’s an intensity and focus to Historian’s rhymes on this record that’s enveloping, and his ability to create bizarre shamans, mystics, and ghosts as characters in his tracks is mostly fascinating. Occasionally, these characters will border on being silly. On “Old Black Coffin” he manages to sound remarkably like a Haunted Mansion character and not like a ghostly old man. However, when his characters and dark instrumentals come together just right, such as on tracks like “Ghost Elk”, the brooding, gothic mood is easy to get swept up in.  Overall, Historian Himself may not even be trying to reach hip hop fans at all; angsty white kids with a penchant for nature are sure to love the aesthetic of this whole record, and if that’s who Historian wants to relate to, he’s almost certainly succeeded.

Verdict: Recommend

Carter Moon grew up in the desolate Evangelic capital of the world and responded by developing a taste in counter culture, which eventually bloomed into a love for filmmaking and screenwriting. Carter has average opinions on most things, but will defend them adamantly and loudly until no one else wants to bother speaking up. He runs Crossfader's podcast, IN THE CROSSHAIRS.

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