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Busdriver | Jhelli Beam

Anti- (2009)
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  June 2, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


For a guy whose layered rhymes are less accessible than Hilary Duff's muff, Busdriver designs relatively people-friendly hip-hop. Some of the Los Angeles outcast's backdrops sound as if they'd fallen off the El-P tree, but as executive maestro (beats were mostly handled by Daedelus and Nobody) he cobbles awkward glitches into tapestries on which he can hang his complex comic scripts.

It's remarkable how much mayhem occurs on any given Bus ride: the drum-punched "World Agape" drags you through at least four climaxes, and "I've Always Known" coasts on a Slinky synth loop but finds Busdriver alluding to Barney the Dinosaur and Boutros Boutros-Ghali in the same bar. One consistency across all of Jhelli Beam — and particularly on such select selections as the introductory "Split Seconds" — is Busdriver's enduring verbal dexterity. I would bet ducats that this Project Blowed alum snaps faster than Qwel, Krayzie Bone, and even Twista.

"Me Time" makes Michael Winslow sound like a stroke victim trying to recite the McDonald's menu in a single breath; as a thug said to me at a Busdriver show last year (without noticing his irony): "This guy might look gay with those tight jeans, but I wish more dudes spit like that."

Related: Review: The Roots of Hip-Hop, P.O.S. | Never Better, Beef stakes, More more >
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