The life and work of Defcee provide a study in contrasts. He’s a serial altruist, rallying his pupils to conquer the written word. (His background includes stints as a CPS teacher, part-time prison instructor, and mentor to aspiring poets.) But on record, this lanky, lantern-jawed Jewish boy eschews warmth; instead, he tells hard truths with a forbidding scowl. After years of enervating toil, Defcee (real name Adam Levin) caught a break last fall with the Billy Woods–endorsed Trapdoor. His latest album, a collaboration with local producer BoatHouse, is called For All Debts Public and Private —and sure enough, Defcee has the snarling, pitiless calm of a debt collector. This is what underground hip-hop was like a quarter century ago: neck-snapping drums, bruising punch lines, and deftly syncopated flows. Public and Private sounds a clarion call for boom bap’s redemption in 2022.