I was doing some research about heavy metal for academic purposes when I stumbled across a subgenre of both heavy metal and trap music. In particular, an article listed several artists who mixed heavy metal and trap music. I was intrigued. How would such a subgenre even work? In the case of Bones, effectively.
Bones, (stylized BONES) is a rapper from Howell, Michigan. He was born in California, but it seems the experiences of life in small-town Michigan formed the basis for the work that the 24-year-old rapper currently creates.
In an interview with dazeddigital.com, the rapper recalled being beaten up for wearing the wrong clothes and otherwise having an aesthetic beyond short hair, camouflage clothes, and boots.
While he might have had issues with his peers, in that same interview, Bones (real name Elmo O’Connor) states that essentially his parents were nothing but loving and supportive. Bones’ brother, Elliott, is his manager.
Bones is not signed to a record label and has problems with the whole culture of young artists being signed to record labels, wherein industry professionals function as bosses to tell artists what to do.
Even without traditional industry support, Bones has managed to make a living from the work he does through fan support. His underground status remains because unless a person hears about Bones from another fan, or finds him accidentally, there is no media campaign for Bones’ works.
His videos have a low-fidelity quality to them, and it turns out that they’re recorded on VHS tapes. Bones seems to be from another time, yet uniquely of the 21st century.
Regardless of his approach to the business side of music, what intrigues me most about Bones is his music.
“RestInPeace” by Bones
The song begins with a moody soundscape that will only grow more aggressive. A high-hat shimmers against the tense echoing of a guitar’s chord. The notes are tossed into a darkness that listeners can’t quite hear yet, and the rapper mumbles a few syllables until the song explodes with monster vocals and the heaviest “trap” bass I have ever heard. Bones’ delivery jumps in right after. His voice is relatively high and nimble, and he can rap at lightning speed. Bones can lower it a touch to relay a trap story of death and dreams.
The section about “I never thought I’d live to see all these…dreams” is done in scream mode, and the screaming fades into the bass machine and live drum combination that gives the song its ominous feel.
Just as listeners adjust their expectations to the bass that literally rattles rib cages and eardrums, the song is over. At just two minutes and about one second, “RestInPeace” is a blink of a song that could make some audiences certain that they dreamt the whole thing. But few people’s imaginations could bring this to life.
“RestInPeace” by Bones is a perfect blending of heavy metal and rap. But it doesn’t come across as across as a gimmick. There seems to be an aura of neo-storyteller in the words and approach that Bones uses. Bones is not the only rapper combining trap elements with heavy metal. But so far, his approach is one of the most effective.