Armand Hammer, the New York duo composed of ELUCID and billy woods, has released one of the best Hip Hop albums of the year with their latest, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips – released under Backwoodz Studioz, the label almost singlehandedly responsible for rescuing the Hip Hop year 2023 from mediocrity. This album is a vibe, giving you a taste of the duo’s lyrical genius, taste for experimental beats, and a sound that’s pure Armand Hammer.
The producers on this joint are a wild mix—JPEGMAFIA, Child Actor, Pudge, Preservation, DJ Haram, August Fanon, El-P, Steel Tipped Dove, Messiah Musik, Kenny Segal, Willie Green, Black Noi$e, Jeff Markey, Elucid, and Sebb Bash contribute beats. It could’ve been a mess, but no, these beats come together in a mix that’s both cohesive and out there, showcasing Armand Hammer’s knack for riding different vibes. The album’s got an impressive array of guests too, including Moor Mother and Pink Siifu.
We Buy Diabetic Test Strips is one of Armand Hammer’s best, and that’s saying a lot with Paraffin (2018) and Haram (2021) in the conversation. No skips on the tracklist here. Check the opening track, “Landlines”, setting the mood with its eerie atmosphere. ELUCID and woods drop cryptic and introspective rhymes, diving into memory, nostalgia, and the ticking clock. Then hit up “Switchboard”, a more upbeat joint with a bouncy beat and catchy hook. The lyrics stay deep, though, as the duo breaks down tech’s role in our lives.
Standout tracks include “Trauma Mic” (featuring Pink Siifu and produced by DJ Haram), a sonic assault with a banging beat and distorted guitars. ELUCID and woods spit raw and visceral bars, facing their personal demons and the world’s injustices, and “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (produced by El-P), a chaotic and unpredictable ride, with El-P’s signature production providing the perfect backdrop for the duo’s mind-bending lyrics.
Armand Hammer keeps it real throughout the album with their trademark bars, unorthodox flows, and thought-provoking lyrics. They cover everything from age and history to politics, hitting you with refreshing and challenging perspectives. A recurring theme is old-school telephone vibes—check “Landlines,” “Switchboard,” and “Woke Up and Asked Siri How I’m Gonna Die”. It’s a nostalgic exploration of communication, with dial tones, automated messages, and real talk woven in.
The beats match the gritty tales of modern living, swinging between harsh industrial beats and dreamy interludes. Armand Hammer’s been doing their thing for a decade, and We Buy Diabetic Test Strips only solidifies their spot in the underground Hip Hop scene. It’s a bold and commanding LP that captures Armand Hammer’s journey while pushing boundaries. With a rich tapestry of lyrics and a diverse sound palette, Armand Hammer keeps owning the game in the underground Hip Hop world.
Also read: The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2023