Knowing is Half the Battle: Chief and theDoomsdayDevice Takes on the Internal Big Brother on Limitless


by Dylan Garsee

It’s easy to dismiss paranoia has the bored ramblings of a person with undiagnosed personality disorders. Modern day paranoia seems to stem from a place of intense selfishness, with such online theses as “the government wants to read MY text messages,” “police officers want to take MY weed,” etc. Never is anyone responsible for the world they have caused and everyone is out to get you. On Limitless, a new album borne out of a collaboration between San Antonio producer Mnolo, Ecuadorian producer Anecha  and prolific Austin rapper Chief and theDoomsdayDevice, the idea of Big Brother is inverted and all of your worst nightmares of privacy are devices of your own being.

Strings, bells, and choir samples flow in and out of the heavy stomps of the opening two tracks to add some brevity to the otherwise brooding and crawling flow of Chief. Without these light touches, the album could have easily swerved into Illuminati-core, something that we all should try to stop. Cheeky interpolations of Tracy Chapman (“Talkin’ bout a revolution/or just a change of mind“) and The Warriors call to play help sell darker lines like “I am not the fodder for your frontline/used as an instrument to commit your war crimes.” There is a person calling for change, not just the concept of a revolution.

The only track that lacks the balance of the others is the final track, “Witness.” It could be my bias against lists of things in music– one of my two main musical pet peeves along with mentioning food– but the series of surface attacks on vague subjects like women’s rights to marijuana laws to sex in advertising feel lazy and a little fear mongering, something the album walks up to but never directly does. “Witness” is the only misstep in an otherwise solid album.

Chief and the Doomsday Device is one of the most hardworking hip hop acts in Austin right now, and his passion for music and shining light on societal issues is second to none. On Limitless, he achieves a great balance of artist and a fighter for social justice for the most part. Knowing is half the battle, and Chief is in the middle of a war.

Chief and theDoomsdayDevice plays Red 7 this Sunday, April 20th, with BLXPLTN, Henry & the Invisibles, Son of Stan and AJ Vinent.