Formed in 1996 in Oakland, CA, Meanest Man Contest is a duo comprised of a rapper, Ericksolo (aka Eric Steuer), and a mix-man who calls himself Quarterbar (aka Noah Blumberg). The group came together from the ashes of mic.edu, which collapsed after founding member Lafura Jackson (aka A-Twice) succumbed to cancer. The eponymous Meanest Man Contest marks the debut of MMC, whose quirky brand of pseudo-hip-hop brought them a considerable amount of acclaim and helped them launch their own Rocketship Records imprint. Meanest Man Contest's eclectic brand of music draws from genres as diverse as classic rock and techno and adds a bit of hip-hop flavor to create a sound that is as danceable as it is abstract and as entertaining as it is well informed. Well-versed in the importance of atmospherics and owing more to DJ Shadow than to Wu-Tang, this type of music tends to come from artists who possess the ability to distill an entire record collection down to a few key sounds, and MMC is no exception. As numbers like the understated "Contaminated Dance Step" illustrate, Quarterbar plays his vinyl with as much finesse as many guitars strum their instruments (perhaps a nod to his more traditional musical sensibilities as evidenced by his guitar work in the band Jim Yoshii Pile-Up). Ericksolo's MC skills leave more to be desired, as their laid-back sameness lacks spark and walks a fine line between being hypnotic and simply boring. Following the success of this record, Meanest Man Contest set to work on a proper full-length debut. Titled Merit, MMC's full length hit shelves in 2003 courtesy of the Plug Research label.
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