Anti-Pop Consortium is the rarest of things; a group who diss the mainstream but also stay true to their own ideals and, perhaps most importantly, make wicked music to listen to. They are musicians who are sick of the rubbish released and, like all good artists, want skills to be rewarded. They might be angry with some, but as Priest tells us, "For MC's with skill, bear no ill will."
After hearing "Arrythmia" by Anti-Pop Consortium, I honestly cannot remember the last time I heard beats and rhymes as well matched as they are here. The rhymes might grab your attention but they would be nothing without the fantastic backdrop of beats. The production is all in-house; done mainly by Earl Blaize with M'Cs Priest and Sayyid also lacing a few tracks each. From beginning to end we are presented with a tapestry of music that is varied but retains a similar style throughout. It is best described as electric funk. There isn't much bass but lots of synth sounds, clicks and bleeps, and, occasionally, aural pleasures as diverse as opera and farm-yard noises -- I kid you not. I mean literally, farm animals moo-ing or baa-ing! Anyway enough description; time to peep some lyrics.
"Yeah, I hear cat's raps
But their flames don't shoot
So I don't even wet that; like a raincoat suit
So what I'm saying is this
Sayyid's on top off this shit
Like I'm walking around with a toilet strapped to the hip"
You can't always be sure what some of it means, such as "Light bulbs make love and burn themselves out." Sounds great but does it actually mean anything? And does that matter? The rapping is superb throughout. Sayyid (who drops the verse above) is the most poetic, but I equally love MC Beans' use of similes throughout the album like "Rare as fur on fish; like a pterodactyl is a stranger to lipstick."
This record certainly isn't a one-off either. Their previous works ("Tragic Epilogue" and the EP "Ends Against the Middle") are of a similar calibre and are even less mainstream than this album's dialogue: "Swift - as if you kicked the pitbull in the nuts; impossible - like masculinity for drag queens."
With rapping as colourful as this it shouldn't be surprising that the MC's are all into performance poetry. They are just lucky to have found a producer with the vision of Earl Blaize to hook them up with suitable beats. Highlights of the album include "Ping Pong" which is a short track built over the sample of a ball hitting a table, "Mega," and the Beans solo joint "Silver Heat." To say the beats are similar for the whole album doesn't mean they are bad, per se. The similarity glues the album together but within it is still some variety. On "Focused" beats take a back seat and set up the MC's in fine story-telling form. On the lead single "Ghostlawns" the sound is much more prominent; very lively electronic funk. Even when they are bragging, the end result is that they still sound great.
If you enjoy quality hip-hop you should listen to this record. Not buy it, just listen to it. If you love the underground music of Mike Ladd or Deep Puddle Dynamics or the poetry of Saul Williams then buy it. If you are looking for something a lot less jiggy than P. Diddy but a bit more cheery than Company Flow then get this album. Thereis no doubt as to the quality and originality of the music; my only qualm is whether this album will last well. Will it be one of the records you will dig out of the crates in 5 years time, dust off and enjoy just as much as when you first bought it? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few years time, Anti-Pop Consortium makes a reappearance.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: May 7, 2002