Where’s Your Album?!!

Demigodz Entertainment

nderground rappers signing up to major labels. Because that always works, right? The album gets released on time with all the samples cleared, the artists retain the sound and buzz of earlier works, whilst the PR department get fully behind him, garnering him that all important mainstream media coverage breakthrough, and at the end of the experience said MC has a great success on his hands, never at all ending up as a bitter and twisted individual tied into a recording contract he doesn’t want, resigned to making ever more confused appearances on mixtapes and white labels. Apathy, come on down, you’re the next contestant on “I’d Like To Sell More Albums Please”.

For what he’s done so far in his career, though, he deserves to shift a few more units. As franchise player with the always interesting, sometimes brilliant Demigodz clique, Apathy’s been an integral part of some of the finest posse cuts of the past five years (and “Don’t You Even Go There” is one of the finest songs of the past five years, period). And now he’s signed to Atlantic Records, and work on his upcoming “mainstream” album has been going on since roughly 1912. It doesn’t appear to be coming any time soon. However, he will be self-releasing his Eastern Philosophy album, an underground prequel to the overground sequel, later this year, and as such Where’s Your Album?!! is the mixtape-esque “Apathy Is The Future” style promotion for that LP. An album to promote an album to promote an album. Well done all involved.

In places though, it works to perfection. For a man who talks about dealing coke to college students, there’s an obvious irony in appealing to their other dangerous addiction, novelty samples. Talking point of the album, and, on first listen, clear stand-out, is “It Takes A Seven Nation Army To Hold Us Back,” where he jacks the bass and chorus from Fatty and Skinny’s indie floor-filler and turns it into a pretty class hip-hop fucking ‘n’ fighting anthem. If Jack could have come up with something with as much balls, maybe Renee wouldn’t have kicked his ass to the kerb. Providing additional verses is his back up man for the whole album, Emilio Lopes, an MC bringing new meaning to the word “competent”.

It also works well when his Demigodz partner, the quite frankly awesome Celph Titled, turns up on some freestyles to rap about C&C; Music Factory, Patti LaBelle’s breasts, and the logistics of opening fire on a gymkhana. It works on “Radio,” with 60s-ska style backing and verses from Crisis and 8th, a lisping MC who brings to mind less Fiddy and Kool Moe Dee, and more Violet Elizabeth Bott from the Just William novels.

It doesn’t work and, aye, here’s the rub, when he attempts to do what actually successful rappers are doing nowadays. You know, perhaps the songs that Atlantic strongly suggested to him that he may well like to try at each artist development meeting. “Trust” proves that rap needs no more tales about heists gone wrong ever, “Can’t Nobody” manages the impressive achievement of sounding lazy even for a Kayne West joint, whilst “Mary Song” features Ap loving discussing how his earlier sexual dalliances resulted in him, how you say, pulling the trigger too early, going to show that the only PE that needs discussing in hip-hop wore clocks around its neck and hated Jews.

But then, on “Different Song,” where he sends up the current hip-hop obsessions with chipmunk soul and screwed and chopped, he gets his teeth back. There’s two conclusions you can draw from all of this. First, he simply isn’t up to the task of being a platinum rapper. When he raises his head above the underground he just gets blinded by the bright lights. Second, this is an album before an album before an album. It’s his C-material. His C-material is 90% listenable, and with two or three actually great tracks. If he’s saving back his A-material for wider consumption, then we will have a new superstar on our hands. If not, then he can always remain a favourite amongst those who buy coffee table books full of photos of trainers.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2005-01-05

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