Bloodshot Mama

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Indie rap will probably never escape a tag of not being willing enough to aim for the brass ring of wide popularity -- especially in these years of its popular domination -- but the counterargument from many supporters is that it really is hip-hop rather than pleasurable but dumbed-down chart pop that conforms to stereotypes and expectations. The dialogue will rumble on for the unforeseen future while albums and mixtapes continue to flood out everywhere, of which Bizzart's Bloodshot Mama is an enjoyable example, not breaking any new ground but offering up a series of sharp songs at its best. Miles away from the future funk of Timbaland and crunk's captivating crawl, Bizzart, a good but not uniquely remarkable MC, and his collaborators create a thick flow of rumbling beats and arty touches that is already an equivalent of classic rock, suggesting the early work of Divine Styler more than once (even the Nick Drake-like opening to "Dreams of Sparrows" has a parallel in that earlier MC's "Width in My Depth"). At louder moments such as the frazzled, classical music-sampling bombast of "Liquid Beast," New Kingdom might be a better comparison point; one could easily sense Bizzart being on a bill with Dälek, which itself is a better fate than being stuck with Sage Francis. Other songs like "Drifter," with guest spots by AWOL One and 4 Ever, balance harpsichord riffs and wordless female vocals with rampaging self-doubt and tales of youthful emotional holocaust -- attractively done, though again not a new or suddenly stunning gambit. In many cases it's all down to sudden, striking moments: the swirling, ascending feedback collage starting "Shark Skin Humans"; the stirring keyboards at the center of the title track.

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