Rev Run


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Kicking off his solo career with a bang, Rev Run brings the vintage Run-D.M.C. attack-rhyming while unknown producer Whiteboy rocks the house mash-up style on the fantastic but frustratingly short Distortion. Calling Distortion an "album" -- which the Rev himself has in pre-release press -- is a stretch. The 26-minute run time feels like a cheat, but with most of the competition wearing out their welcome with overstuffed, hour-plus albums that beg to be edited with the remote, Distortion is a rare, tight listen that demands to be swallowed whole. Hearing Run brag it like before and lay down the snide putdowns is exciting, but most thrilling is hearing him in the challenging yet slick atmosphere Whiteboy creates. Sampling "Sweet Home Alabama" for "Home Sweet Home" is clever, but looping the stomp of Kiss' "God of Thunder," cutting Joan Jett's "I Love Rock N' Roll" into a razor-sharp loop, and lifting a part of Blondie's "Rapture" that you'd never thought would be lifted is how he goes from nobody to the next underground, mash-up idol à la Diplo. Half of the reason to love him is that despite his ability to create jaw-droppingly smart and fun loops, he's a very intuitive producer and knows when to unclutter everything and let the Rev through. "I Used to Think I Was Run" is the man's shining moment lyrically, with bittersweet quotes from the old days rubbing shoulders with totally aware and sharp lines that explore life as "your momma's favorite rapper." It's a young man's business, but few of the young bucks would try something as risky as the mocking and bouncy "High and Mighty Joe" or the crunching title track, which reminds everyone Body Count had the best blueprint for rap-metal. Being chaotic and hanging onto the edge with its fingernails is the thrill of Distortion, and while this wild ride could be exhausting if it ran on too much longer, the skimpy run time is noticeable and downright perplexing coming from an album that ambitiously delivers otherwise.

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