J.J. Brown / Louis Logic

Misery Loves Comedy

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Following a pair of self-released mixtapes, Louis Logic debuted with 2003's Sin-A-Matic, an underground hit that introduced the Philadelphia rapper to a wider audience. The follow-up, Misery Loves Comedy, gives co-credit to producer and DJ J.J. Brown, a wise move because Brown's inventive, varied settings are the album's most consistently entertaining feature. Vintage old-school soul samples (some given the now-standard Kanye West speed-up treatment) and jazzy minor-key instrumental themes are Brown's primary stock in trade, but the producer cleverly integrates unexpected sound effects in between without crossing over into show-offy gimmickry. (In particular, the opening of "Up to No Good," balancing Stereolab-like vintage synth washes with a deep soul guitar line and wordless male/female vocals, is simply outstanding.) Over all of this, Logic's raps tend to focus on his experiences with women, and as the title indicates, the news isn't good. However, instead of the usual bitches-and-hos misogyny, Logic gamely accepts his own shortcomings on songs like "All Girls Cheat" and "A Perfect Circle," even as other tracks feature more typical sly braggadocio along the lines of "Classy McNasty." The album's centerpiece track, "The Withdrawal Method," is the best of the bunch lyrically, a clear-eyed examination of a relationship's end that sounds like Nick Hornby could have written it. Funny, sharp, and surprisingly honest, Misery Loves Comedy is a big lyrical step up from Logic's earlier, more broadly comic records.

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