The One Man Band Broke Up

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When a hip-hop album emerges from the joint efforts of a Connecticut-based rapper (Ceschi Ramos) and a German producer (DJ Scientist) who initially bonded over their mutual love for vintage psychedelic, prog, and folk-rock, you know it's going to sound a little strange. And so much the better: hip-hop has long since entered its decadent stage, and at this point weirdness is probably its only hope. So from that standpoint, The One Man Band Broke Up, a rather weird concept album, is a welcome corrective to the music's increasingly cookie-cutter tendencies. On the other hand, weirdness isn't enough, and concept albums are always to be regarded with healthy distrust. The concept governing this one is the rise and fall of an aspiring musician named Julius, whose story is told over the course of just over 40 minutes by means of a string of wildly varied songs. You'll hear slow-burning jazz grooves with sputtering speed-rap laid on top ("Half Mast"), psychedelic acoustic hip-hop interwoven with eerie keyboard and vocal samples ("Bridge"), and a faux-classical string quartet ("No New York"). You'll hear rank self-indulgence with a probably intentionally misspelled title ("For My Dissapointing Hip Hop Heroes") and fiery rockish rap ("Swallowed Salt") and then go out on a note of lazy-feeling retro grooviness that is probably intended as a tone poem based on Julius' final dissipation. At times you'll be captivated and at others you'll roll your eyes a bit, but at no point will you think "Ho-hum, just another hip-hop album."

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