You can’t keep a good cheese down. Muenster has returned with a new album called “Radio Dogpile,” with production described in the one sheet as “from Texas to Switzerland.” That just happens to check two good boxes for me – I’ve never had a bad vacation in Texas (including the one I took just this month) and I’m reliably told that “Juon” is a Swiss surname. That doesn’t presume any bias toward the Denton emcee though – I only gave him straight 6’s on his last review though I did say he struck me as a prospect with future potential.
In evaluating a rapper you have to consider the mechnical aspects of their ability to perform, the creativity that goes into their lyrics, and the strength of personality behind the one spitting those lyrics. One thing remains as true on my last review as on “Radio Dogpile,” which isn’t surprising given that Muenster says this album was five years in the making — his flow is sound over almost any beat of any tempo. One of his favorite producers on this project is Juicy the Emissary, and the natural chemistry between the two is evident on tracks like “Oracles Gift” and “Rumblin.” They’re completely different sounds — the former is slow and bass heavy while the latter is up-tempo and chock full of Indian/Middle Eastern soundscapes. Muenster is equally at home on both.
“Radio Dogpile” is double the length of his “Warped Tape” although all but two of the songs clock in under 3:45 in length, and the “Believe That” album finale REALLY skews the average at an astounding 13:07 in time. It makes sense to clock in between 3-4 minutes on most songs unless they’re posse tracks or super extended remixes, because it gives you the right amount of time to appreciate the beats and rhymes before you want a fresh flavor. That doesn’t mean you can’t hit the mark on something shorter though. The Sir Kutta produced “Real Talk” nails the “half short/twice strong” philosophy with a backdrop that sounds like a 1960’s folk song and has guest bars from Kutta as well.
“You know I’m in the studio, you know where life takes me
I keep it simple for the humans goin crazy
Let the world spin like a record that descends
Running from your fear only makes things worse
Give it my best, to the rest, cause I passed the test
I made my mind up, reppin hip-hop ’til it’s over
and watch it rise like a spirit when it flies
The evil tries, but it’s forced to tell lies
The movement has come, we must rise from the slums
and build a foundation, that kills all the hatred”
You notice when flipping through his tracks on Bandcamp that Muenster tags his tracks “conscious hip-hop,” and I can honestly say the theme is evident throughout the 74 minutes on songs like “Good Man” (produced by Martin Funkhouser, scratches by DJ PriestTD) and “Rise Up” featuring B. Know – a song which hints at “secret society” conspiracies in its samples without becoming bogged down in Illuminati imagery.
Every now and then a thought creeps into the back of my head that Muenster is hitting all the right notes, delivering worldly raps “from Texas to New York, Spain to Peru” as he says himself, but there’s one element of the presentation I always evaluate that Muenster just needs a little more of – the personality and charisma. He’s speaking thoughtfully and with well considered points, and in an era of lazily sung AutoTuned freestyles I can’t stress that I appreciate that too much. At the same time Muenster tends to lay in the cut a little TOO much for my liking, at times completely melding into beats instead of dominating them by sheer force of will. It’s not that I’d want him to scream on tracks like DMX or Lil’ Fame, but a little bit more of an edge couldn’t hurt. The lyrics are mechnanically sound as noted, but nothing hits you over the head like a sledgehammer as a killer punchline or a hip-hop quotable. Once again I’m forced to say that I like what Muenster’s doing, and this isn’t an album I regret listening to, but I rate him conservatively thus far because I don’t think I’ve yet seen or heard his best bars.