Like everyone, I have a handful of quirky pet peeves. You know, things you don't necessarily HATE, but simply annoy you to no end. For me, it's popped collars, "Pioneer", "Nike" or ANY brand name stickers stuck anywhere on a vehicle, and CBS football announcer Randy Cross. But my biggest peeve is excessively "artsy" art. Everyone knows what I'm talking about. Every year, movies that nobody gets (and nobody really likes) win two dozen Oscars. Same with the Grammy's. What about the people wandering aimlessly through galleries pretending to "get it"? Maybe the red and yellow splotches are, well, red and yellow splotches, not the artist's interpretation of the AIDS epidemic.
On second thought, it's not the art that annoys me, it's how some people defend it. Art snobs. They take the cowardly way out, claiming that any detractors are somehow less sophisticated or enlightened. Sorry, I didn't realize my intelligence was being tested. Don't get me wrong, no one appreciates a message more than me. But at the end of the day, it's still supposed to be entertaining. In my experience, many music critics (and fans) fall into the trap of "critical peer pressure", praising an album that's over their head because they fear the snobs will somehow expose their apparent stupidity. Of course, if anyone questions their praise, they can always pull the "you just don't get it" card. It's sad, really.
Well I'm here to say, screw it, I don't get this album. Maybe someone should explain it to me. From what I gather, it's sonic science fiction. I actually like sci-fi movies and books, but the translation to music, particularly hip-hop music, is an ugly one. First of all, any semblance of a beat or melody is absent for a majority of the tracks, replaced with a garbled mess of beeps, squeaks, and whirls. Too lightweight for the car, too cryptic for headphones. As for the lyrics, the Lenzmen have a, shall I say, "well-developed" imagination. The problem is that without boundaries, the credibility of the lyricism drops dramatically. Why do you think the "art of storytelling" is so respected in hip-hop? It takes enormous skill to frame your rhymes around a focused topic. With this sci-fi theme, the possibilities are literally unlimited and the Lenzmen abuse this characteristic, at times making up non-existent words. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but let's face it, this is ridiculous. Sure the bars rhyme, but if you scour through the "Star Trek" vocabulary you're bound to find something eventually. You can smell "fill in the blank" rap a mile away.
I'm sure there's someone out there that would enjoy the abstract space style the Lenzmen offer. I suspect you'll find him sleeping at the ticket counter thirty hours before the new Harry Potter movie debuts in a few weeks, dressed as a wizard. And while we're on the subject of pet peeves...
Music Vibes: 3 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 15, 2005