A horrible hack


Escape from the Pigeon Hole

Year Released: 2007
Format: CD
Label: Antidote
Reviewed by Joe Callaghan on Apr 7, 2009
So, this guy is good but you could say that his quandary is that he knows full-well just how good he is. Or you could dispute that this is his most valuable asset. After all, for hip hop to excel, it needs to have panache, flair, a positive ego and a healthy dose of narcissism. DIY Punk rock can often still look and play the part whilst lacking in musical ability and it can still be enjoyable but I canít imagine wanting to listen to a rapper who can barely rap over the top of out of time scratches and poor production, so for an emcee to actively announce his distinction can only be a positive thing, surely?

You might remember Abdominal from the DJ Format record with all them guest emcees. Abdominal was the one who rapped about how good he is at rapping, how to write a hit song, and a 3 and a half minute long metaphor comparing the process of rapping and beat creation to serving up dinner for a party of several. Delectable. This is his very own record under his own moniker, with, like all hip hop records, some contributions from folk you will probably recognize Ė Cut Chemist, Notes To Self, DJ Format yadda yadda. So after a sluggish spoken word intro over sparse lo-fi beats, Abs cuts to the chase Ė a song about how good he is at rapping, but focusing on a specificÖ His very own breathing technique. Not only how he can ride a whole verse on one sharp intake of breath, but also how he can do this better than you. Are you ready to feel inferior? Whilst his flow and articulation are attributes to be clearly commended, the boasting and implementation of this affects and actively dilutes the signature cocky swagger in the projection of his vocal tone. It is audible from the production that heís not fibbing though. The lines arenít recorded individually and pasted together like a Kanye West record. They call that a faux-flow in the biz. Thatís what guys like Abdominal accuse whack-rappers and sucker emcees of, because they just arenít as dope as he is. Luckily, this ĎI can breathe better than youí circus gimmick is left alone after this one track, and he gets back to breathing appropriately but still sticking with the narcissist theme as often as possible.

Forget your East Coast/West Coast mud-slinging and gun-toting. This guy, along with rap-group Notes To Self, are from Toronto, Canada. So what would be better than a rap song about their home town and their nationality? Canada, baby. Recognise. At first it seems a little banal and tacky, and it just doesnít swank the same tone as being from the mean streets of Brooklyn or Compton despite being painfully middle class. I guess even though it lacks the typical gritty hip hop culture, it comes across a little more authentic, spouting about how he loves to ride his bike around his home city, and how heíd rather not be anywhere else. I guess I canít pick a fault with that, and I guess Iím trying hard to. I grew up listening to Epitaph punk rock bands in my early teens. You know, the type that would piss and moan about anything and everything? To hear a record from someone who just clearly loves life, his roots and doing the things he enjoys, it manages to derail my jaded, cynical outlook on life, and Iím wondering what the catch is. No catch. Abdominal just wanted to create a record full of bloated ego, bursting at the seams with self-worth. Heís good at rapping and heís better at it than you. Heís even better at riding his bike than you. He goes as far as to saying he would ďlay you to wasteĒ which is a little exaggerated, but quite humorous, regardless of how serious he actually is.

I canít help but compare this to some kind of hip hop equivalent of Dragonforce. Itís satiated with positivism and self importance but is brags talent and ability over creativity and originality, all done as fast as humanly possibly. Style over substance if you will. But itís enjoyable, fresh and absorbing. It lacks the trite fictional violence and the overloading of the N word, and any mention of big cars and hard cash are restored with the riding of bikes and a general infatuation of life itself. Oh, and heís dead, dead good at rapping. You dig?

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