Rasco

The Dick Swanson Theory

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Rasco, a rapper from California, hit the scene big in 1998 with his solo debut album on Stones Throw, Time Waits for No Man. He was proud, he was blunt, he was fresh, and he soon became one of the Bay Area's most notable underground stars. Since then he's hooked up with Planet Asia to form Cali Agents, switched labels a few times, and released a handful of solo records. 2005's The Dick Swanson Theory, on Pocketslinted, finds Rasco pretty much where he started nearly ten years ago. His rhymes are confident (braggadocio is a word often associated with him), his beats are heavy, he has a smattering of guest artists (including Planet Asia, Ras Kass, San Quinn, and Aesop Rock), an instrumental or two, some good soul grooves, and a lot of sports metaphors (the best one being "I give them nothing they can cling to/Like fastballs on the swing-through"). Perhaps because it is so similar to his earlier work, The Dick Swanson Theory sounds kind of hackneyed. And maybe Rasco knows this, too: he seems to be trying hard to win new, younger fans who might normally listen to pop music. "Backdown" has an "I'm a Slave 4 U" kind of hook, "No Love" samples Jackie DeShannon's "What the World Needs Now Is Love," and "World's Collide" is very much inspired by Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life." There's even an attempt at a real love song, the platitude-laden "Chances," which finds Rasco lamely repeating, "I got to take a chance on this girl now/You never know, it might change my world now." This is unfortunate, because where he doesn't force the songs and just lets his talent drive them, he sounds good: in "What Happened to the Game" he reflects on life over nice, jazzy riffs, and the vaguely uplifting "Situations" has a Jedi Mind Tricks-like piano groove and a smooth lyrical flow. Sadly, this isn't enough to repair the album. It only reminds you that while in 1998 Rasco was indeed a "first-year rookie that's killing the pros," in 2005 he's just unconvincingly telling other MCs that he's better than all of them. It doesn't work very well; he'll have to find something else to do before his next album if he really wants to sell that to anyone.

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