Selling Live Water

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Like most Anticon records, Sole's Selling Live Water plays a disingenuous trick on the listener by selling itself as high-concept when it's really hip-hop Dada. For all its dense, breathless wordplay and thick, stewy production, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's a surfeit of content here, threads to untangle, layers to peel through. The disappointing reality is that all these five-dollar words and murky sonic tapestries are impressionistic at best, a fact that wouldn't be in the least bit troubling were Sole's more lucid moments not filled with blazing rhetoric in deference to some sort of hidden insight. But even for this and all other errors of judgment (whereby he parses "flow" as "syllable count" and "surrealism" as "automatic writing"), there are some worthy moments to be had here. Selling Live Water's best trick is one of momentum, whereby a track starts at comatose speed and is shocked to life with a stronger beat halfway through ("Slow, Cold Drops"). Likewise, the otherwise pedestrian "Shoot the Messenger" is made magical by a hypnotic horn sample, which enfolds the track like a slow-motion lariat. In the end, though, Selling Live Water follows the Anticon party line (double-timed, singsongy half-sensical ramblings countering slow, lumbering beats) through to conscious hip-hop's most logical dead end. An irony, given that in order to move forward, Sole first needs to write his consciousness back into the script.

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