I did not expect to enjoy Wacka Flocka Flame’s debut studio album, Flockaveli.

I expected to laugh a lot; cringe even more, and at best have total indifference towards the album overall. As an emcee, Flocka lacks nuance, wordplay, inventiveness and flow in equal measure.

But then I realized that such grievances are totally irrelevant to understanding the appeal of his music. Flockaveli is brash, hard-edged, and unremittingly bleak. It strips hardcore Hip Hop down to an unapologetically dark, fatalistic core that frightens and fascinates in equal measure.

Hate on him all you want, but Flockaveli is a great album.

The secret to Flockaveli’s success is its outstanding production, largely helmed by Lex Lugar, arguably the hottest producer in the game right now. Lugar produces 11 of Flockaveli’s 17 tracks; his contributions are largely responsible for an energy and relentlessness that is undoubtedly the project’s essential ingredient. His production style (best heard on Rick Ross’s brilliant “B.M.F.”)can only be described conceptually as an orchestra from hell; frantic, horror movie strings, brutal percussion, and ruthless, near-exhausting repetition.

These songs feel oppressive and apocalyptic, and they are the perfect backdrop for Flocka’s nihilistic, ambivalently hedonistic rantings. In almost any other context production wise, Flocka would probably fail miserably as the lyricist anchoring a full length studio album. But the brazenness and brutality of the beats works flawlessly in support of Flocka’s vocal stylings; a style that can only be described as very, very direct. A line like “when my little brother died, I said ‘fuck school!’” may not feel so arresting when you’re reading it off of this screen, but it takes on almost revelatory significance when you hear it with the force of Flocka’s charisma, earnestness and personality behind it.

Flockaveli is essenitally about self-preservation in a hostile environment. Flocka’s music deals in drugs, guns, violence, and sex exclusively; there is no social commentary and no self-awareness. The album is thematically unconcerned with consequences, authority, or the future. Numerous guest rappers mob almost every track, none providing any levity or relief from the albums sinister subject matter. In effect, Flockaveli is pure in intent and nearly flawless in execution. Honestly, it’s like Hip Hop’s answer to the nihilistic, seemingly amateurish, awesomely repetitive punk rock of the Sex Pistols.

And I absolutely love it. But it is definitely an acquired taste.