Blastfamous USA’s Debut is an Air Raid on Austin Music

by Nick Hanover

Blastfamous USA

The final lines on Blastfamous USA’s eponymous debut EP are “this is not your city,” shouted over a din of sirens and wails and industrial racket. It’s not a plea, or a  suggestion, it’s a righteous refusal to let homogenous agents of hegenomy steamroll oppressed and ostracized culture, a rallying cry to fight back against erasure from three musicians coming together from different corners of Austin, the titular city in question, where disenfranchised innovators continue to be pushed out to make room for boutique hotels and real estate efforts that don’t even shy away from emphasizing their embrace of gentrification. Blastfamous USA don’t say who the city’s for if not the gentrifiers, because they don’t need to, the message is clear: this is your city if you’re brave enough to take it back.

Fortunately, few entities are better set up to rev up audiences than Blastfamous USA. Bringing together heavily hyped Austin emcee Zeale and electro-noise rebels NGHT HCKLRS, Blastfamous USA is the sound of transgression as a party, buzzing and throbbing to the pulse of fury. “Out Here” epitomizes that approach, with Zeale serving the role of winking crowd pleaser while NGHT HCKLRS slowly build a barbed wire cage around the listener, establishing a menacing, ominous mood that doesn’t let up for the rest of the EP.

Blastfamous is also capable of working similar magic with more traditional hip hop elements, though, as “Burn the Devil” brilliantly shows. The song has Zeale take the spotlight in full, showing off the masterful flow and dexterity that made him a legend in Austin’s freestyle community. The entire EP highlights those elements of Zeale that made him stand out as Austin hip hop’s Most Likely to Succeed, but where it really shines is in unveiling aspects of his persona that audiences might not have expected to come from someone whose path to potential fame involved collaborations with Blue October and major label courtship.

Take “100 Watt Boxes,” where Zeale bluntly states he’s here to “say the shit you will not,” then immediately shouts “Fuck the president, fuck the delegates and the fucking cops.” It’s not the most eloquent of verses but Zeale delivers it with such conviction and bile in his throat it feels far more devastating than the thousands of punk songs that state more or less the same thing. That ramps up further on “Air Raid on America,” where Zeale and his NGHT HCKLRS walk you through their 13-point program to destroy America, reminding you that while the government is “Trying to take away your rights/You got the freedom to fight,” urging you to “do everything you can to make the empire fall” while klaxon synth leads sound the alarm.

Few debut EPs are as rousing and self-assured as Blastfamous USA’s work here and fewer still promise to start a riot and actually follow through to such success. The trio could still work on opening up the range of their sound, sure, but what’s there already is so captivating and real the fact that the songs sometimes blur together is more or less a moot point. Of all the arguments to shut down the forces trying to tear out the heart of Austin, this is one of the more devastating and powerful.

Buy Me a Coffee at

Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover