Fabri Fibra

Controcultura

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AllMusic Review by

Controversy monger Fabri Fibra is back with Controcultura, another fine example of Italian rap. Even if their sound and look tend to mirror their American counterparts, Italian rappers are in a way also the repositories of a long tradition of social anger, a role occupied in past decades by Italian folk protest singers and punk rockers. Granted, Fibra is certainly no stranger to the insufferable nombrilism of most contemporary hip-hop -- and some of it is quite funny -- but what makes Controcultura truly interesting are the many tracks dealing with larger socio-political issues, and God knows there are plenty of those to be mad about in Berlusconi's Italy, starting from the Premier's notorious use of underage prostitution services in the unambiguously titled "Escort." Furthermore, Italian hip-hop always had an unabashed (if not always admittedly upfront) love for Euro-electro/dance music, so the emphasis on catchy melodies and choruses is bigger than on most English albums of the genre. The obvious example is the second single "Tranne Te," where the influence of Daft Punk is ostensibly bigger than that of Eminem, perhaps the American rapper Fibra most closely resembles. Nevertheless, for all of its energy and clever beats, knowledge of not only Italian, but of contemporary Italian media -- in particular of the abysmal world of Italian TV populated by celebrities, starlets, host shows, politicians, and reality show squalor -- is absolutely necessary to understand this record. Case in point is the lead-off single "VIP in Trip," whose video is a hilarious remake of the Clash's "Rock the Casbah," only with Silvio Berlusconi and Umberto Bossi (leader of the xenophobe party Lega Nord) impersonators in the role of the Jewish and Arab who ride together in a Cadillac, and whose lyrics include a vicious attack on young actress Laura Chiatti, as well as taking pot shots at singer Lucio Dalla and journalist and politician Piero Marrazzo (who was president of the Lazio region until he was forced to resign due to an scandal involving a transsexual.) At 18 tracks, the frantic Controcultura can become repetitive and, most of all, overwhelming. Still, while there are some obvious standouts such as the ones mentioned above, one must concede that it is hard to pinpoint a dud among the rest. Perhaps the best summary is offered by Fibra himself, when he admits that "I may use stupid rhymes, but when you get to the gist of it, you agree that I'm right." [Controcultura's deluxe version adds a DVD with a 45-minute interview, for only one more Euro.]

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