Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Beans, "Shock City Maverick" (Warp)
Hip-hop has two distinct fans: those who like the hard beats and those that want to hear musical poetry. Former Anti Pop Consortium member Beans attracts both types, especially with his newest and best release yet, Shock City Maverick. This album creates a precise unity between his glitchy, Warp record style beats and his raw lyrics.
The lyrics maintain the edge that people know and recognize. The White Plains, NY MC doesn't fear how people may react: He insists on lyrics that teeter between pretentious humor and the downright vulgar. His rhymes range from getting your manhood caught in the zipper of your pants to how other MCs hate him cuz they can't be him.
But don't worry. His attitude coincides with the raw beats he lays down. Tracks such as "Death by Sophistication" layer effect upon effect, mimicking his artistic personality, which people crave.
Fridays 8-10 PM
Oh No, "The Disrupt" (Stones Throw) B
Imagine you're back in elementary school: on the playground, kids are grabbing their crotches in your direction, making high-pitched noises. In the cafeteria, the school bully attempts a moonwalk after shoving your face in the mystery meat of the day. Welcome to the entirely probable childhood of one Michael Jackson, a.k.a. Oh No. Playing the crown prince to sibling Madlib, king of the West Coast underground, Oh No has swaggered out of the shadows with a solo shot that manages to be eclectic without cribbing notes from big bro.
Madlib lends a hand on five of the album's tracks, highlights being the bass-heavy creeper "Stomp That, V.2" and the broken-beat inflected "Every Section." Jackson fam compadre Jay Dee gets all Phantom of the Opera on some Detroit bounce for "Move." Aside from the bland contribution by Kan Kick on "Take Another," Oh No handles the rest of the production work, creating a West-centric sound without resorting to G-funk cliches or the tired boom-bap appropriations doled out by groups like Dialated Peoples. The gem here is Disrupt's first single, "The Ride," which benefits from an 8-bit assist of a classic NES game. Elsewhere, the gritty narrative of "Seventeen" is laid over a breezy slice of summer soul, and "Perceptions" channels and then chops the Blaxploitation sounds of the '70s.
Aside from his knack for beatmaking, Oh No proves that he's no slouch on the mic either. His flow is reminiscent of journeyman Cali emcees like Planet Asia, and while most of the rhymes are above-average boasts and toasts to the laid-back West Coast lifestyle, Oh No gets topical on a few songs. He is also quite capable of dropping nasty wordplay like "Gimme space before you get popped in / And pop like Justin just in Janet just popped out again / Watch 'em rush in."
The Disrupt is a little bloated at 17 tracks, but most of the album is a breath of fresh chronic at a time when the West Coast seems to be experiencing a homogenization of its underground talent (in the wake of the successes stories like Jurassic 5 and Black Eyed Peas). Oh No keeps it in the family and keeps it moving, crafting a disc that bumps equally hard in the club and on the headphones.
By Phil Torpey
Breakfast for Beatlovers, 9-noon Fridays