Onry Ozzborn

The Grey Area

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The most interesting rapper to ever come out of Farmington, NM, is back with his second full-length album, on which he continues his exploration of dark, slow funk beats, religious controversy (defensive Catholics should avoid listening to "The Altar" at all costs), and what is, for the genre, fairly complex philosophizing. There are sonic similarities between Ozzborn's predominant moods and those of his colleagues in Brooklyn's Wordsound crew, but Ozzborn combines a thick, murky ambience with hyperactive rapping in a way that is quite unique. His sampling is also consistently interesting: check out the Balkan vocals he weaves into "The Altar," the multi-tracked arco bass on "Can You Hear Me" (which also features some fine turntable manipulation by an unidentified DJ), and the classical flute and piano samples that anchor "The Ozz." That just may be a Chipmunks sample on "Legend Had It," too. On "Def Shephard" he brings the metal guitars, and on "Poltergeist" he name-checks Pink Floyd, Phil Collins, the Strokes, Eurythmics, and the Misfits, all in a single verse. If he weren't so serious, it would be tempting to think he was showing a sense of humor there. Recommended.

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