Sole / Sole and the Skyrider Band

Plastique

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There's nothing wrong with complicating hip-hop tradition; that tradition has enough musical and lyrical substance by this point to take it. But when a rapper name-checks Jean Baudrillard and describes his album as "less about politics and more about reflections on the postmodern mess that is the 'me' generation," then there's good reason to proceed with caution. That said, Tim Holland (aka Sole) and his band (multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fritsch, drummer John Wagner) have figured out a way to balance all kinds of dialectical elements: articulate cleverness with a relatively simple and predictable world-view ("To the children of privilege/Taste the pavement"; "Do you wanna dance under the watch towers of the RNC," etc.); open textures with heavy beats; aggressive negativity ("Nothing's gonna pay your rent/Nothing's gonna fix your life") with spectacular grooves. Holland raps like a Kafka nightmare while Wagner and Fritsch build uncommonly complex scaffoldings of rhythm and harmony behind him: the glitches segue into strings on "Mr. Insurgent," "More" lurches forward in 6/4 time, and "Children of Privilege" combines a headlong lyrical flow with a queasily dreamy backing track that starts out completely arrhythmically before subsiding into a slow, seasick beat. This is not your typical hip-hop, that's for sure -- but most of it is well worth the effort required to absorb it.

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