What the fuck is "abstract" Hip Hop anyway? The term has been used to describe Hip Hop music that deviates from the norm in terms of lyrics, content, beats, or flow among other things. Why then do we call it abstract? Should it be called "different from the normal shit you hear" Hip Hop? How about from now on we just call stuff that everyone would normally classify as "abstract" just "different"? Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's safe to say that the Trailer Park Ninjas are on some DIFFERENT shit.
The emcee collective of Meaningless, Laser Pipebomb, and The Voice of Terror who hold down Columbus, Ohio aren't out to prove that they can hang with today's Hip Hop heavyweights, but rather alter a few perceptions of those who think Hip Hop is the trash that Viacom feeds unsuspecting viewers through MTV and BET. The stiff, distinct flow of the Ninjas is about as close to spoken word over beats as you can get. This offers the listener the opportunity to easily make out the often witty lyrics such as the following from "Vicarious Surprises":
"My mission is important and meaningless
Just a victory and a mishap waiting to happen
Unless you let me rap/wrap these words around you
Gigantic miniscule mindsets and ideas materialize before my eyes
My blonde hair and blue eyed earthly disguise is also my demise
It lies and shows you nothing that lies inside
I abide by my own rules
Which incurred kaleidoscopes and notebooks
Note to self: take a second look before putting this back on the shelf
Once again I'm lost in the shuffle
I can't help it sometimes I'm a trouble-shooter
Aiming to find another side hidden behind stirring opinions"
This album has its bright spots, as the Ninja formula seems to work best when the beats are slow, complimenting their rapid offbeat flow. It is at points like this where the Ninjas succeed with tracks like the piano/guitar tinged "revolutionary seeds" the haunting, patient piano track of "believable", both of which are hot in their simplicity and supply a decent backdrop for the showcase of lyrics:
"Projected, believable, distant fantasies that seem so real
They smack you in the nose and leave you gasping for air
Shaking for life and left for dead
The sins of discovery
The mystery of bad imagery
So you suffer with indecision and the broken pages of a moist magazine
What good is this that's brought a memory to my eyes
Of the martyrs that lay with dogs
Sleep with thieves and caress magnetic machines
That separate the souls of your dead family
Traveling so fast and thinking so slow
Flaming seed pop entering the atmosphere orbital
I slowly escape the throne of control
Parachuting from paper airplanes, I fall down get back up again
And entertain the thought of how tired I am"
Unfortunately, the Ninjas monotone delivery will probably leave some about ready to rip their hair out after a few tracks, praying for someone to switch up their flow just a bit. I almost thought for a second that there was going to be a change as the Ninjas flirt with a triple cadence flow for a quick second over the spaced-out techno "breathing is fun," but it was just a teaser as we get the same rigid delivery. With a few exceptions, many of the beats feel as if they are present for the just sake of providing ANY kind of backdrop for The Ninjas to speak over, and in turn add nothing special to offset their repetitious flow. The only break in this scheme is "deep like dreams" where the track's ascending strings, as well as the flow creates a sense of urgency as if the song is supposed to blow up at the end, a well-needed variation.
With humorous lyrics like, "Lost in a unknown world with incredible intelligence/ Nobody sees the bank tellers/they're covered with mirrors/ They're getting their cosmopolitans standing next to Henry Rollins, Phil Collins and a 3-toothed real estate agent," The Trailer Park Ninjas are not afraid to let you know they are a bit different. All they ask is that you do them a favor and "listen with an open mind, and if you don't have one, we'll be happy to sell you ours"
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: December 4, 2001