September 12, 2006

Rap Roundup: by Sean U'Ren

Three albums full of rap jams in this roundup - each very different and mostly real good. Instead of putting on sweaters for the coming seasonal change, keep the windows rolled down and bump some of the following:

GLUE - Catch as Catch Can.

Three men, Adeem, DJDQ and Maker, all on a mission to save your ass from top 40 pain. Instead of suffering through another Lil Jon/E40/Yun Joc hoedown, play this and feel those brain blockages created by current rap radio melt away. What drives this record is good beats and scratches that feel like Z-Trip, Coldcut and Beat Junkies in a phone conference with Cut Chemist, along with a vocal insistence that reminds me of an angry Chuck D. The lyrics are more than just 'we rock this hard' and 'I can make your girl do that' - Adeem, two time winner of a major freestyle title, has super-clean vocals and a more than a few interesting things to say - he doesn't really waste time with useless boasts and stuff. Mostly, he runs alongside the beats, jumping into syncopation and finding a Slug / Chali Tuna / Ozomatli flip-flop flow that, despite comparisons, is more an original sound than a sum of parts. The outfit has toured with J5, Atmosphere and even Matisyahu - hopefully, you can catch them as they roll through this September.

Play this: when you're late for work.

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SPANK ROCK - Yoyoyoyoyo.

For every good r'n'b jam that begs to be played while you're putting on the Drakaar Noir for a big night out, there are 12 that should be played when you actually get your lady back to the pad. These are probably not those 12 songs, although in a perfect world, they would be. From the first 'Yeah, yeah' to the last trippy track, this is funky electro-blippy rap shit that will own your sexy ass in a way that nothing else can. Super silky lyrics play up against casio warbling and jerky beats that sound like Chromeo dry-humping Peaches on a three-day bender, with Amon Tobin-style sampling and some bristly electro-samples dropped off by Squarepusher after Midnight Vultures. Upon rereading what I just wrote, it SOUNDS like something I'd hate. Really. I typically hate crossover electro-rap crap. Who doesn't? [Besides those cheesy 40oz sipping hipster chicks, typically] Please - just go to myspace, listen to it and then go buy it - and you will no longer understand how you woke up each day without 'Rick Rubin', 'Touch Me' or 'Coke and Wet' playing in the background. Brought to you by band members who hail from the city of Baltimore, which, coincidentally, also brought you, "Ass and Titties".

Play this: when you're late for your second date.

+Spank Rock on tour throughout the remainder of the year+

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GYM CLASS HEROES - As Cruel As Schoolchildren.

A bunch of recently post-high school kids making rap with live instruments backing. Ranging from great Living Colour tribute to mildly Keane cheesy, these guys aren't content to slide into the typical jazz/soul riffs that are so popular among the live music rap types. The entire album is a good concept - laid out in class hours, from 1st period to after school detention - and the lead man, Travis, has the vocal skills to put most MCs in their place. The production is great but left me wanting something unexpected. And what may seem like arch observations to these guys comes across as less interesting as the album rolls on. Still, they're young. Plenty of time and the parts are all there. I look forward to hearing them grow as their album count does [they've already had six].

Play this: when you want to piss off your lab partner who's loving his Evanescence.

Sean U'Ren is a tall writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently complaining about the weather and maintains a column of his past and future mistakes at his Gaper's Block column, Chicago to LA .

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