By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Orlando oddball whose seventh-grade fave rave was "Pop Muzik" by M breaks New Year's resolutions, bites "Tom Sawyer," pays blatant homage three times to early-'80s Prince, quotes Götterdämmerung in a film-noir cadence recalling fellow Florida Wagner buff Bob Rosenberg of Will to Power, updates Yellow Magic Orchestra into some Lost in Translation-worthy trans-Asia-express loneliness called "To Osaka by Rail," praises "a man with a hand when a brother needs a hand" in "Dick 'Em Down Jones," and works Afro-Cuban timbales and juke-joint pinetop and bebop excursions into his techno. His previous album, five long years ago, had tracks called "Jump, Jive and Wail" and "Monk's Beard." He earned those titles, too.
The Roots of Kin
More perturbed than Pimp Daddy Nash about teen-pop (maybe 'cause Justin is funkier), this conscious Orlando rhymer would benefit from more unconsciousness. But especially when he keeps stuff down-to-earthlike, say, in his summer barbecue numberbongo-band conga breaks, carbohydrate-rich Chic swing, P-Funk electro-bass flashlight streams, Sly-and-Robbie-do-Grace Jones disco-dub grooves, and backdropped handclap/whistle/yelp parties make up for his unthreatening diction, Billie Holiday namedrops, soap-opera fuzak strings, and earth-mother pals simulating "soulfulness." Regardless, I recommend harder drugs.
I'm Always Recovering From Tomorrow
Or maybe not. Blurred by groggy studio fog mimicking his CD cover's hookah smoke, this L.A. undie-rap up-and-comer's arrogance-free vocals never reach out and grab, his rhythms eschew dance push, his words sometimes go backwards, his hidden track lazily mashes up beats from Eminem and Aaliyah, and his pro-smoking editorial could use Commander Cody's sense of flow. Subtitle supposedly "spent the last 12 months in a windowless, 8' x 8' storage closet shotgunning soda and bong hits," so an indie-punk label predictably embraces him like lo-fi lovers have long embraced hazy crazies from Rammelzee to Schoolly D to Basehead to Sensational. Still, his debut EP's down-to-seeds-and-stems-again mood is commendabletape fuck-ups can be fun.