Live From Rome
he Anticon camp isn’t for hip-hop conformists. The word “backpacker” doesn’t even begin to describe these people. As a whole, the label’s roster has ambled deeper and deeper into hip-hop’s far left corridors. Most purist heads wouldn’t even recognize the stuff as hip-hop at all.
In case you’re dissatisfied with the aforementioned claim, let’s investigate. For starters, we’ll examine Sole’s vocal content. *plays Live From Rome on nearest portable media-playing contraption* OK, so apparently, dude is “rapping.” *presses “Pause”* But Anthony Kiedis does that too. We certainly can’t peg Sole (or anyone else) as a hip-hop artist based on raps alone. So let’s see (hear) about the music. *unpauses* We can detect faded traces of the good ol’ lovable boom bap aesthetic, but it’s all been so mangled and farted-around-with that it’s nearly unrecognizable. *pauses again* Perhaps that’s another strike against our pursuit of genre pegging. Lastly, let’s ask Joe Rapfan how he perceives the record. *yanks on Joe’s $50 dog tag and plays him a sample of the recording in question* OK, it appears that Joe has made up his mind, as he proceeds to pee on my Rio . He’s packing quite an impressive aim with that stream of his, so I’ll let him finish. Let’s assume for the sake of our study that he doesn’t care for Sole so much.
Maybe, just maybe, if it doesn’t necessarily sound like hip-hop, and it lacks a hip-hop audience, it’s not hip-hop. But it is something, isn’t it? Let’s just call it “I-never-shave-hop” for no real good reason.
Unhelpful critic drivel aside, I’d say Live From Rome is fairly lyrically sound. In this case, “lyrically sound” should be taken with exactly two grains of salt. One grain would represent the ranting political nature of the content. I can’t help but liken these lyrics to the journal excerpts of angry adolescent school shooters. It’s not so much the content itself as it is the delivery, that unhealthy, “I make pipe bombs in my friend’s van” delivery. Grain #2 simply exclaims, “Dude! Rhyme!” (Sole’s unrhymed verse gets a little tedious after 17 tracks.)
Production credits for Live From Rome go to the label’s usual cast of white, twenty-something, Cali-based MPC-owners (Odd Nosdam, Alias, etc.). The beats are a bit more experimental than last time around (2003’s Selling Live Water). They’re perhaps more akin to those of Sole’s IDM-friendly Morr Music alter ego, Man’sbestfriend.
It’s not that I’m particularly bothered that this artist/album/label doesn’t sound like the hip-hop I often prefer losing hearing to. I’m no purist myself. And the arguments I can make against Live From Rome can generally be applied to Anticon as a whole. Truth be typed, this is one of the best records I’ve heard off the label. It’s vocally stable and holds up pretty well in the production department. And it just so bloody happens to be 100% Anticon. *shakes off golden droplets*
Reviewed by: Will Simmons
Reviewed on: 2005-03-15