Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October Reviews: The Underground Edition

Refer to previous post for rating system, or refer to any system of 1-5 you want, they are all pretty much the same.

Apathy: “Wanna Snuggle?”


Apathy is not only my favorite emotion; he’s also one hell of an MC. Ap has been bouncing around the underground scene for about a decade, been cosigned by everybody from indie-rap darlings Styles of Beyond to superstars Linkin Park, and has been affiliated with the Connecticut-based Demigodz since their rise to national prominence in the early 2000’s. Despite these powerful connections and obvious talent as a lyricist, song writer and producer, AP’s career has yet to take off beyond the typical “struggling white rapper” and “Wanna Snuggle?” (a reference to a boa constrictor eating a rat) is only his second full-length release in a career that already spans over a decade.

Apathy has been relatively quiet since his 2006 release “Eastern Philosophy” and he clearly has used the time off to perfect his beat making ability as ¾ of the tracks are self-produced. He also had ample time to create concepts and write lyrics that tell intricate stories that deal with issues as diverse as materialism, slavery, the music industry, male/female relationships, 9-5 jobs, his place in Hip-Hop and regular people being pushed to insane acts of violence (the near-brilliant album closer “Victim”). Apathy doesn’t waste listener’s time by rigidly adhering to the typical rap song format (three 16-Bar verses and a hook) by adding endless filler verses and adlibs, instead he gets his point across and ends most songs leaving the listener wanting more, as many of the 21 tracks clock in at well under 2 ½ minutes. This is a blessing and curse, while some of the songs end perfectly, some feel rushed or unfinished and could have greatly benefitted from a third verse or guest appearance. (NOTE: I am not sure if this is Apathy’s fault or I am so conditioned to how Hip-Hop “should sound” from damn near two decades as a rabid fan that any deviation from the norm sends my head spinning).

“Wanna Snuggle?” has several really high points, including the B-Real and Celph-Titled assisted “Shoot First,” the throwback (way back) feel of “Thinkin’” and the previously mentioned “Victim,” however these standouts are separated by too much filler for “Wanna Snuggle?” to be considered an underground classic or even on par with AP’s previous work.

Del the Funkee Homosapien & Tame One: “Parallel UNI-Verses”


“Parallel UNI-Verses” is the perfect name for a collaborative LP from two MC’s that have travelled two strikingly similar career paths at opposite sides of the continental United States. Both Del and Tame-One debuted in the early 90’s to critical acclaim and minimal commercial success, both came from areas just outside of Hip-Hop’s prime breading grounds (Oakland and NJ respectively), both have cultivated a dedicated fanbase by affiliating themselves with talented crews (Del’s Hieroglyphics camp and Tame with NYC’s Weathermen), releasing quality albums on respected indie labels (Hiero Imperium, Eastern Conference and Def Jux), collaborating with the biggest stars in underground Hip-Hop (Deltron 3030, The Gorillas, Leak Brothers, Slow Suicide Stimulus, etc) and constant touring both domestically and abroad. Artistically, the two have similar vocal styles that include off-the-wall lyrics delivered in a laid back tone over experimental beats, this similarity is the main factor in making “Parallel UNI-Verses” an enjoyable trip through the underground from beginning to end.

The entire project is produced by Parallel Thought and the up-and-coming producer provides sonic backdrops that are street enough for hardrocks, trippy enough for backpackers and the perfect accompaniment to Del and Tame’s left-field poetry. The standout track and first single “Flashback” has both MC’s reminiscing about the good ol’ days over a sick beat that will have fans ready to breakdance, write graffiti on the train and look for their Das EFX tapes. Other bangers include “Specifics,” “Life Sucks” and “We Taking Over.”

While the overriding “Back In The Day” vibe may wear some fans out after repeated listening, Del and Tame have produced a dope album and one of the finest LP’s in either MC’s distinguished career.

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