"There can be no future without a past." Never before has an album exemplified that hip-hop credo with more maverick boldness than Primitive Plus. It is a wild, weird, instantly left-field rap masterpiece from one seriously bugged-out, innovative loner. Edan, a Boston suburbanite, plays the bedroom-geek wunderkind on "One Man Arsenal" who does triple time on production, behind the turntables, and rocking the microphone and also gives a throwback to b-boy partying like it's 1989. The result is an unholy amalgam of decidedly far-out nonconformity, the acute verbal lacerations of Rakim, and Kool Keith's untamable flights of fantasy ("Ultra '88" is, in fact, a tribute to the Ultramagnetic MC's). Like the latter legend, Edan packs a wicked sense of humor and brandishes it often with a sometimes barbed but always hilariously nutso outcome (on "Emcees Smoke Crack," for instance, he characteristically cops to smoking not crack but aluminum). It allows him to facetiously lampoon conventional rap pretenses and attitudes even as he wallows in them with obviously reverent glee, effectively honoring the genre as a true devotee while managing to stand outside it as a commentator. It is a line that Primitive Plus expertly straddles throughout. Electro and '80s street beats knock about with old-school audio snippets, vintage samples, and video-game sci-fi backdrops, then collide headlong with eclectic pop and rock production techniques, resulting in a rich, layered, complex musical undergirding that is electric boogaloo fresh on the one hand and extremely forward-looking and path-clearing on the other. The album blasts the cobwebs from hip-hop's rusted infrastructure, gives it a wax and polish to make in presentable in the present, then promptly rides it into the space age. In other words, it simultaneously blazes a trail backwards and ahead. Not surprisingly, it took an English label to release the album. This is psychedelic hip-hop that can make you dizzy with its embarrassment of delights. A message to Beck: Here are your real two turntables and a microphone.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart
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