For Vancouver-via-Manitoba MC Mcenroe, blowing up is a journey, not a destination. He’s dedicated 11 years to modest hustle, going from a bored skate rat pestering mall security to a working-class grown-ass man with mortgage payments still trying to make a mountain out of a prole hill. His label, Peanuts & Corn, is a rec-room-brewed WishaHouse, a stable for barely self-sufficient MCs content with their status as never-weres since the struggle is so much fun, bragging about freshening up in a club bathroom and writing one-sheets while wifey’s at home picking out baby names. Suburban white guys don’t get their dreams deferred; they put them on layaway.

Without a highly profitable star (nor the means to tour the U.S. cost-effectively), P&C survives on a steady stream of unpresumptuous releases like last year’s Break Bread EP, which featured Mac’s five-MC-one-DJ crew popping their blue collars, rapping about selling car parts, picking lotto numbers, and aging gracefully (headbands notwithstanding). Farm Fresh’s Time Is Running Out, however, confronts hip-hop’s Logan’s Run syndrome head-on. Three guys just a pinch past 30—Mcenroe, curmudgeonly gravel-throated crank Pip Skid, and neck-snapping beatsmith Hunnicutt—retreated to Mom’s basement in their hometown to eat cookies and recapture small-town restlessness. Their workaholic dogma struggles to ignore the ticking clocks on the album cover, making
Farm Fresh the best self-battle record of the year—in hip-hop, admitting “I’m old” is a lot more dangerous than Kanye admitting “I’m self-conscious.” Farm Fresh’s wordplay is increasingly mischievous in that Ogden Nash (or Buck 65) way, where the pleasure is in awaiting the clever syllable combo at the end of a line (“sticker-shock”/”Knickerbock,” “Geddy Lee”/”Steady B”). And they really nail it with DJ Hunnicut’s one turn on the mic, a wholesome paean to dating at the county fair that finds intangible joy in an elephant ear—urbanites should use the song for escapism like suburban kids use Snoop.

Pip Skid’s determined gaze and nostalgia trips turn to cantankerousness on
Taking Care of Business
, a collabo with fellow Break Breader John Smith and 1200 Hobos member Skratch Bastid. Tired of rapping for beer money like he was Devin the Everydude, Pip finally admits he wants the “gonna make things clear money.” Hearing Bastid’s Rawkus-ready beats and bravado scratching behind him, you wish Pip could get a chance to write his version of B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” Though even then, he’d probably never stop D.I.Y. hustling. And the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis would just collect dust.