Local MC and San Jose State graduate student Bob Surratt, aka Stuntdouble, has returned with his latest, "The Hunchback of Golden Hill."
The third release in his "Welcome to San Diego Now Go Home" series, the EP finds him navigating beats by DJ Tenshun as part social critic and part historian, touching on everything from gentrifying neighborhoods to a string of East Village assaults that took place in the summer of 2016.
It's a dark well to pull from but that's his mission -- to reveal the seedier bits of America's finest city -- via songs that, according to his bio, focus "on aspect[s] of San Diego life that aren't always addressed in hip-hop."
Indeed, and he jumps right in with the title track mocking hipsters and elitists who are transforming his childhood stomping grounds, Golden Hill, from a working-class community into a quick-flip free-for-all.
If he's angry about the situation, it's hard to tell, but Surratt does sound resigned to what's happening as he raps with a sense of loss, "I'm done with this place / Man, I'm so f------ done / And I ain't coming back / 'Cause I ain't got the funds," followed by a stern brow-beating and condescending finger-wagging: "Just 'cause you bought low don't mean you a genius / Now the pads are painted, everyone drives a Prius."
From there, it's on to "Up at Night," the EP's most sinister moment -- not as a result of sound or execution, but of content, as he recounts the crimes of Jon David Guerrero, a disturbed individual who set transients on fire while they slept.
It's heavy material, but he keeps it moving, letting loose over the Gameboy sonics of "Drone Poem," before offering up a critique of San Diego's car-centric layout in "Door Prize." There's his homage to the "comforts of truth" with "F--- With Me," and the final minute long outro, "Raise Hell."
Clocking in at a svelte 15 minutes, there's no filler here. It's a concise offering with an almost professor-like approach, so whether socially charged or emotionally unnerving, Surratt's latest is not only well executed but also well informed.
And in the same way Spike Lee shares stories of New York City ("Crooklyn," "Summer of Sam") Stuntdouble peels back the layers through honest assessment, moving past the idea of a sun-soaked Eden and baring the reality of a city where rents are sky high and things go bump in the night.