Meet Barely Free Partial Prisoners, South City's Noisy Hip-Hop Cult
Mabel Suen From left to right: Andy Cohen, Jake Cohen, Jason LaChance.
In this biweekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.
Jake Cohen heads the Barely Free Partial Prisoners, a local hip-hop collective that slings psychedelic sound amid a heady lyrical blast. While the band employs a revolving door of rhyme-slingers, its core members are Cohen and his accomplice Jason LaChance.
Barely Free first performed at a Cherokee Street basement in June 2010. Since its start, the group has composed four albums, starting with A Poem, A Gun in 2011. Barely Free's current project, 3 Pounds of Flax, is a nine-part collaborative effort. To date, three of the nine EPs have been released with six more coming down the pipeline. Cohen has toured the west coast twice and the Midwest once, bringing with him loosely fit songs that carry plenty of room for experimentation and improvisation.
Barely Free melds noise and hip-hop and pushes the whole affair through a punk rock filter. Performances are weird but refreshing, and Cohen anchors the sound with lyrics, letting all else go completely haywire. LaChance swats at a theremin while gripping a table full of noisy toys to the service of Cohen's vocal howling, which includes frequent off-mic screaming. Cohen's brainchild feels just as home in a night club as it does in a dusty South City basement.
We invited Jake Cohen of Barely Free Partial Prisoners to fill in some blanks for us. Click through to read what Cohen had to say.