Some Potential, But Far Short Of Robust Title
|By Amir Said (Sa’id)|
If you name your album after a music genre—specifically, “rap music,”understand this: People will expect a lot from you. Either Brother Reade knew that, and sincerely believed that their debut LP, Rap Music (2007), packed the material to deliver on those high expectations, or, as I suspect, they were directly answering critics who question their legitimacy. Thing is though, critics are best answered with solid material, not incredibly bold album titles. And unfortunately, although there are a few bright spots on Rap Music, the album falls way short of the expectations that the ever looming title seems to promise.
For starters, Jimmy Jamz is more than capable as a lyricist. He comes off as comfortable and content with his rhyme abilities. However, far too often on Rap Music he’s weighed down by Bobby Evans restrictive, bounce-less programming, which includes stuck drumwork that’s low on swing and high on a patchwork of similar sounding simple drum patterns. For instance, on “The Marcie Song,” a standard rapper’s opus to a turbulent youth and family life, Jamz gets out ahead of the beat and never comes back to it. Here, Evans would have been well-advised to remix the tune with a track that could handle the style and flow of the rhyme.
Things aren’t all bad, however. On “Everywhere I Go,” to me, the standout of the album, Evans appears to reach for the roots of the beatmaking tradition, drawing on a clever use of rupture, structured cuts, and well-timed drum rolls. What’s more, on this track Evans employs a magnificent rapidly-looped bass sequence that serves as the perfect context for Jamz to flow naturally over. Then there’s the song, “Like Duh,” the official lead single off of Rap Music. “Like Duh” has the most bounce and movement of any other track on the album. And aside from the stellar “Everywhere I Go,” “Like Duh” sports a very confident and relaxed Jamz on the mic.
But apart from “Everywhere I Go” and “Like Duh,” the album is pretty much an exercise of Jamz trying to hold up the mostly flat beatwork of Evans. In fact, by the time you get to track 12, (“Like Duh” is intentionally buried at 11), the album seriously collapses, extending examples of Evans’ mostly dull and dreary, slowish-tempo electro-like beats.
Bottom line: Brother Reade’s Rap Music offers a couple of glimmers of hope. Jimmy Jamz’ rhymes are stable and at times thought provoking; and Bobby Evans demonstrates that he can bring quality beatwork to the table. However, what does this effort in is the unequal-ness of the rhymes and the beats. On this album Evans seems to be caught between going after a polished sound and staying true to the sound context of fellow NC native 9th Wonder. The result is less than impressive, and, unfortunately, not always easy to listen to, in particular because so many of his beats sound pretty much the same. However, that being said, I do give props to Evans for demonstrating that he could bring some decent beats…I just would have preferred that he did that more consistently, especially on an album called Rap Music.
Listen to Brother Reade, Rap Music here.Articles, Beatmaking, Editor's Choice, Music Reviews