What's up folks. I just exposed myself to a strong dose of what today's music biz likes to advertise as 'alternative' music, also known as indie rock. Eighties stuff, mostly. The Gun Club, The Damned, NoMeansNo, The Godfathers, Sisters Of Mercy and some more obscure (preferrably British) bands. Just stuff I was listening to when I was younger, along with "Run-D.M.C.", "King of Rock", "Raising Hell" and "Tougher Than Leather". You see, the recent passing of Run-D.M.C.'s Jam Master Jay still weighs heavy on my soul. So excuse me if I can't muster up much enthusiasm for some dated local rap product its distributor sent us because they had a few copies left. Excuse me if I don't have any patience for an album that's about as exciting as waiting for the bus. Okay, I'm being rude now.
S.U.N. is a rapper RapReviews writer Andrew Matson recently described as a "listen to what I say, not how I say it" type of MC. Which in itself is correct. If only he had something to say. Certainly, S.U.N. would object against the notion that he has nothing to say and refer to the conscious, anti-commercial touch of his whole act. But when we get to the bottom of things, we expect some type of useful information from a rapper, something that goes beyond mere declaration. Oh the irony, when a rapper chooses to call his album "School of Thought" but fails to lay out any kind of thought process. When he has a song called "I Got Lyrics" but uses the same lyrics for two differently titled tracks, or uses the term "you rather slit your wrist than trying to battle me" twice. When he describes himself as "scientific" (his acronym S.U.N. means Scientific Universal Noncommercial), but his findings sound like casually assembled phrases taken from textbooks. Thus, the following statement is just one of several empty promises: "Information highway, my lyrics are the vehicle / come and take a ride because what I got is unbelievable."
For instance, he has a song called "Black Quarter Back". It's some sort of concept that is supposed to mix rap and football. But even though he can play his own receiver, S.U.N. inevitably fumbles and drops the ball, straying further from his target than any bad pass. Even worse, he prolongs the whole thing with "The Game", which is even more vague. To remain within the sports metaphors, I, for one, am not able to make out "lyrics turnin' more heads than Magic at the Forum" on this record. It's relatively easy to accept if a rapper shows no fancy moves with the mic. As long as he keeps scoring. But with such over-simplistic, fragmented lyricism S.U.N. can't possibly hope to win any titles:
"The Hunt for Red October
I beat your ass till I'm sober
I have you prayin' to Jehova
Flip with all the girls like Casanova
dreamin' of a black Range Rover"
"I'm deep like the national debt
My lyrics got more love than Romeo and Juliet
Better yet, you rather play Russian roulette
than fuckin' with this vet
I'm makin' music like a quartet
leavin' rappers drippin' wet"
With no substance and even less style, S.U.N. is sure to burn out. Like Andrew Matson said, there's the occasional good line, like "Doin' freestyles just like charity," "How you gon' blow up when yo shit ain't hot?" or "my shit is motivation, declaration, conversation / regurgitatin' lyrics from the mic ejaculation / here's an invitation if you have no limitations to your mental gravitations," but it takes more to be a good MC than a few good lines. Listeners looking towards the music for salvation might actually get something out of "School of Thought". "I'm Permanant" introduces us to the album's low end sound, with the occasional screech here, a scratch there. The music gets more complex and melodical, especially vocal rap samples are very effectively used throughout. There's more than a couple of solid tracks to vibe to. But with S.U.N. providing scarecely any guiding light, these gentle soundscapes remain lifeless. He may have stepped up his game by now, but on this 2000 release S.U.N. clearly failed to shine.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: November 12, 2002