Sole

Bottle of Humans

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Extreme solipsism can be done very artfully (Proust, say, or Joni Mitchell's Blue), though, more commonly, it is not, an "asshole hanging out" exhibition, to use Allen Ginsberg's resonant phrase. Bottle of Humans exposes a bit of its posterior here and there, but luckily it edges much closer to the former side of the curve. Sole's debut full-length is a fascinating introduction to a darkly enigmatic interior life, even if it ultimately falls shy of the magnitude of artistic self-transformation orchestrated by Eminem, to name another rapper who has managed to turn private revelation into a funky sort of absurdist autobiography. Like Slim Shady, Sole has surreal self-deprecation down cold, though he can't always muster the charismatic schizophrenia. He is a clever forger of words and framer of ideas, and his wit is readily apparent, even if the MC occasionally comes off too strident or earnest. In any event, this is a frequently captivating album -- there is something attractive about the idea of "dismantling" your own ego, of refusing to "rap in bumper stickers," of willfully avoiding rap clich├ęs or turning them on their heads, as Sole consistently does. His lyrical vision is ambitious and unpretentious, bleak and neurotic (song titles like "Suicide Song" and "MC Howard Hughes" are instant indicators) but unconventional, sharp, and often singularly brilliant. This also goes for the music: minimalistic, fragmented, futuristic, paranoid, kitchen-sink-and-all, it is part junkyard hip-hop, part Dada collage, part deconstruction, part dialectic, and part monkey-into-space progressivism. At a diary-like 73 minutes, the album is too long to sustain the frequently gloomy psychological exploration, but this is maverick, outsider rap of a high quality.

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