Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Renaissance isn't top-ten material or anything; it's mostly just a pretty solid exercise in diffuse stoner-rap formalism. But this morning it made for a pretty great soundtrack for an absolutely miserable rainy commute. Q-Tip's obviously not the rapper he once was, but these days he's working with this enormously likable halting, awkward flow. Even when he's talking all this vague stuff about universal understanding or whatever, the sort of hippie-talk I usually don't like, his delivery is very seriously old-school, like Busy Bee old-school, something I was thinking even before he gets to the obligatory old-rappers roll-call on "Life is Better." And the beats are all either Dilla or sound a whole lot like him: little bits of old melodies shining through murk, everything loping sideways instead of punching straight ahead. This album has atmosphere, and it's got personality, and those two things alone are enough to recommend it.

I've also got nice things to say about Landing Gear, which isn't an upper-tier Devin album by any means, but which is still getting shit on for being a total low-budget move, which it is. But I like those slow-crawl low-budget beats, especially when they've got this kind of space and melody working for them. And Devin comes off a whole lot more human and fallible here than he did on Waitin' to Inhale, which I didn't like that much mostly because the supermack fuck-bitches songs outnumbered the woe-is-me self-deprecating ones by a little too much. Devin's weed carriers are mostly pretty good, too, and the one song he almost completely turns over to some random R&B singer is better than it has any right to be. Until that whole fourth-quarter rap-album leak deluge kicks in (any day now), I'll take these two modest, small-scale affairs.

Still trying to find a copy of Z-Ro's Crack without internet-stealing it. NY-area Circuit Citys used to be so much more dependable.