Eccentric Electronica and Backpack Rap Licks, 2003

Now think I underrated both rap albums. Still love the techno album.

Subcaption.

PIMP DADDY NASH The New Jazz Science

Orlando oddball whose seventh-grade fave rave was “Pop Muzik” by M breaks New Year’s resolutions, bites “Tom Sawyer,” pays blatant homage three times to early-’80s Prince, quotes Götterdämmerung in a film-noir cadence recalling fellow Florida Wagner buff Bob Rosenberg of Will to Power, updates Yellow Magic Orchestra into some Lost in Translation-worthy trans-Asia-express loneliness called “To Osaka by Rail,” praises “a man with a hand when a brother needs a hand” in “Dick ‘Em Down Jones,” and works Afro-Cuban timbales and juke-joint pinetop and bebop excursions into his techno. His previous album, five long years ago, had tracks called “Jump, Jive and Wail” and “Monk’s Beard.” He earned those titles, too.

SWAMBURGER The Roots of Kin

More perturbed than Pimp Daddy Nash about teen-pop (maybe ’cause Justin is funkier), this conscious Orlando rhymer would benefit from more unconsciousness. But especially when he keeps stuff down-to-earth—like, say, in his summer barbecue number—bongo-band conga breaks, carbohydrate-rich Chic swing, P-Funk electro-bass flashlight streams, Sly-and-Robbie-do-Grace Jones disco-dub grooves, and backdropped handclap/whistle/yelp parties make up for his unthreatening diction, Billie Holiday namedrops, soap-opera fuzak strings, and earth-mother pals simulating “soulfulness.” Regardless, I recommend harder drugs.

 SUBTITLE I’m Always Recovering From Tomorrow

Or maybe not. Blurred by groggy studio fog mimicking his CD cover’s hookah smoke, this L.A. undie-rap up-and-comer’s arrogance-free vocals never reach out and grab, his rhythms eschew dance push, his words sometimes go backwards, his hidden track lazily mashes up beats from Eminem and Aaliyah, and his pro-smoking editorial could use Commander Cody’s sense of flow. Subtitle supposedly “spent the last 12 months in a windowless, 8′ x 8′ storage closet shotgunning soda and bong hits,” so an indie-punk label predictably embraces him like lo-fi lovers have long embraced hazy crazies from Rammelzee to Schoolly D to Basehead to Sensational. Still, his debut EP’s down-to-seeds-and-stems-again mood is commendable—tape fuck-ups can be fun.

Village Voice, 14 October 2003

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