The Beauty And The Beat
ore and more, it appears as if Edan was born in the wrong decade. His uneven debut Primitive Plus had Biggie’s “old school, new school, need to know this” mission statement in spades, but his aces were always his sharply-enunciated flow and bibliographical knowledge of hip-hop’s past. On his second studio full-length, The Beauty And The Beat, Edan tempers his sound with tighter songs, stronger vocal presence, and incredibly distinctive production.
Things done changed and so has Edan. His older work could’ve been considered a gimmicky or awkwardly produced take on Company Flow’s initial manuscript: nerdy soundclash with great ideas and poor execution. Now, the new school is in session and it appears Edan has gone from purveyor of tame off-kilter boom-bap to drugged-up, thugged-out psych rap flagbearer. Benefiting from a conscious lowering of his previously nerdy vocal tone, the songs range from twisted storytelling of the Nasir Jones calibre (“The martyr was light-skinned with chartered indictments / That started in high school, his father was Michael / He shot him with a rifle, a product of the cycle”) to accurate analysis of the modern music landscape. (“The underground is made of velvet / With buttersoft brothers, talk tough on wax but ain’t sell shit /…My mental fabric, too thick for Lenny Kravitz / Who imitates Jimi Hendrix in every facet.”)
Edan’s training with guitar and love of rock music shines through here, making this album both hip-hop and a modern companion piece to super-produced aural highlights like Pet Sounds and The White Album. Mixing his newfound affinity for flanging, echoes, distortion, reversed samples, and challenging arrangements with film samples referencing Death Comet Crew and looped 70s funk breaks, it all comes out sounding a bit like Madlib through the broken fisheye lens of El-Producto.
The only issue I really have with the record is the filler: skits, the rehashing of an instrumental (from a Lex Records compilation), and a verse (from Count Bass D’s “How We Met”). All things considered, Edan has lowered his tone, beefed up his content, mastered an independent, creative production style and crafted a concise album that makes a strong stab for early album of the year bids. In more ways than one, Edan proves that the future can be both then and now.
Reviewed by: Rollie Pemberton
Reviewed on: 2005-01-25