Rock is dead: Long live hip-hop
About a week ago, I couldn’t sleep, so I began a long Socrates-style dialog with my better half (of my mind; I call him Pepe) about whether hip-hop is the future of music.
For one evening, at least, I agreed with Pepe that hip-hop has the upper hand over all other modern genres– for example, its avant-garde productions seem to lack the regimented structures, set lyrical topics, and stylized repetition of modern music’s other front-runner, rock.
From an evolutionary standpoint, hip-hop seems to be the fitter beast, and in a Darwinesque showdown (for you scattered Social Darwinists out there) it just might be able to claim the popular crown.
By the next morning I had slipped back into my “Rock is great!” stance, believing with absolute certainty that my favorite style’s demise had been brought on by too much selective MTV viewing and coke (a Cola)-– but my suspicions remained.
In one of those coincidences where you suspect someone is listening in on your private monologue, Busdriver and Radioinactive with Daedelus’ new avant-garde hip-hop album, The Weather, appeared in my box last Friday. After I’d listened for about 10 minutes, my personal rock vs. hip-hop argument began afresh— that’s how good this album is.
The Weather is the work of three artists on LA-based Mush records, who (or so it sounds on their CD) got together, got loose, and just let the tapes roll.
Busdriver was a part of the LA based “hip-hop educational seminar” Project Blowed; Radioinactive was once a member of the similarly based group Log Cabin; and a chance collaboration on Busdriver’s previous disc, Temporary Forever, led the two to see the benefits of (non-sexual) partnered living.
“Exaggerated Joy” starts the disc off, with lyrics that seemingly take the form of a word jumble that makes partial sense, with a beat that goes from simple to overly complex in the span of a verse.
“For the people who know/deeper than hundreds of thousands of debt/your couch is now wet/Here is the washcloth to wipe yourself dry,” raps Radioinactive in a relaxed, mildly melodic nasal tone at the beginning of the verse.
Busdriver takes over for the chorus-– his is a gasping voice, more energetic than Radioinactive’s has been, and he throws out a melody so complex that each syllable he sings is a new note. And Radioinactive’s computer-vocaled bridge-like section halfway through the track, where a Bosanova beat suddenly appears? Genius.
The album keeps up its general merriment and loose yet tightly together sound from there on out. “Pen’s Oil” is the first track where Radioinactive and Busdriver show off their amazing ability to rap faster than a speeding bullet, barely leaving time for the listener to comprehend the ridiculous words before something else rears its hilarious head.
The Weather is great from the beginning to the end, and like classical music, just might increase your mental power a bit.
Rock fan? Your days are numbered, my friend.
Busdriver and Radioinactive (as The Weather), AWOL One, and Andre Afram Asmar perform at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar April 25. No cover, 8pm