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Busdriver RoadKillOvercoat Epitaph • 2007

LA rapper and former Project Blowed phenomenon Busdriver ain’t your average rapper. With jazz singer Jon Hendricks as one of his main influences and a bunch of productions behind him for which the term eclectic ain’t even accurate enough, the son of the writer of 'Krush Groove' is a man who likes to cross the edges of rap with an irregular rhyme scheme here, a staccato flow and a sing-a-long chorus there, plus some spoken word and with a hyperactive high-pitch voice that evens out the Dizzee Rascals of this world.

With four albums behind his name already, Busdriver has been able to overwhelm us with a creativity and an open mindness rarely seen in hip-hop, especially the last few albums. His collaborations with Daedalus were good, but didn’t live up to the standards that we laid upon such a much anticipated collaboration, with both artists being thé trendsetters and avant-gardes of the moment. For instance, 'Fear Of A Black Tangent' was way more marvellous than 'The Weather'. We have to admit: at first 'RoadKillOvercoat' (or 'how to recycle road killed animals') was a hard nut to crack.

It’s been a while since we heard hip-hop being benched in so many ways and styles, that we even turned suspicious. But we guarantee you, this album grows on you. It all begins with the ghetto-tech-like, Boom Bip produced, first single of the album, 'Kill Your Employer' (or 'Recreational Paranoia Is the Sport of Now'), seemingly going a bit further in boss-bashing than where Mr Lif left off (until you read the subtitle of course), and with Busdriver twisting his tongue in all kinds of knots and spraying your mind (he did rhyme 'Poorly attended peace marches holding cold veggie dogs', did he?) with his typical irony and sarcasm.

In the smooth, melodic rock-pop tune 'Sun Shower', Busdriver drives his bus towards the hit lists and sollicitates for a performance at in 'Later With Jools Holland', while the cheeriness of the song abruptedly comes to an end in the intricate melancholy of 'Go Slow' with Bianca Casady addin a spooky dimension to it. Although we still figuring out some lines, this song really shows the sonic ambiguity of the album, going somewhere from uplifting to moody and back but never losing its sarcastic viewpoint. 'I got people to disappoint, I got mistakes to make, how can you believe it I’m not a waste of space?' it goes in the soothing, psychedelic 'Mr. Mistake (Bested by the Whisper Chasm)', while the wonderful guitar-infested ballad 'Dream Catcher' closes Busdriver’s best release till this day.

Can we call it a rap album? In a way we can, although 'rapper' is a much restricted term for Busdriver, who stretches his voice in different ways jumping from one style to another. Let’s just call it a music album with rap and trenches of soul, pop and rock interwoven. The cohesive attraction between Busdriver and the album’s two producers, Nobody and Boom Bip, is all-present with excellent mixing and an exciting cat-and-mouse game between the vocals and production. We’re still thinking of what Busdriver exactly meant by some of his phrases, but this makes the album even more challenging and outstanding within the field of (roughly considered) rap.


POSTED ON 01|11|2007 by cpf

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