SumKid made an album about "The Lil' Folk" because he's one of them. Underpaid? We'll just say his house is devoid of platinum plaques. Touring schedule? He won't be headlining the Summer Jam next year. He's an average man who knows that, realistically, his voice doesn't matter. "Average" in the whole scheme of things, sure, but on record, SumKid's like Superman. Life moves fast, and yeah, we all watch, but only a handful of emcees, let alone human beings even think at such a breakneck speed.
And SumKid dares you to catch up. "If If" might make him look a pretentious bastard, what with his metaphorical chorus ("if," and "why" represent different intoxicants), but he clearly refers to his life more than his thesaurus. It's an exploration in self doubt, everyday crises, fear, and commitment. In short, it's a fine introduction to what lies ahead.
SumKid's verse can reflect everything and nothing, of cultural significance or total fiction, and often both in the same song. The Kid has a heavy chest, evident by the uprise anthem "Lil' Folk" "We in the concrete jungle shooting the documentary - with plenty of nudity - plenty of beauty for you to see the booty on the naked truth ... there's more of us than all of them." It's more delicious conspiracy theory power-snacking than Mr. Lif feeds, only to be later followed up with "the president sucks a big brown nut" on "The Down." Yet, in between sits the purely surreal "Skeleton's Ball," a fantastical narrative tracking a clan of madmen that builds into a blossoming, climactic opus.
Where does Sum open up the bigger can of awesome - his cash oriented self examination on "Ole Gnat Grind,"or in viciously serving fake emcees on "Niggas & Flies?" "All up in their videos grabbin' their meat, whoopin' and hollerin' and shoutin' and bouncin' and yellin' and growlin' and flashin' they teeth." Searing and true, it's like God finally delivered the new standard for dismissing punks (sorry Guru). Not to be blunt, SumKid prefers bitter satire in telling it like he sees: "keep it coming 'cause the white kids love it." Preach.
As for production, SumKid is further proof that a good lyricist can make average beats sound great. He decimates an unassuming techno pattern on the title track and rocks what would have been an equally stagnant rave party number on "Way Hard." This isn't to say there aren't adequate breaks. "Dude More Blue" provides the perfect orchestral backdrop for the Kid to roll through North Carolina, and "Contra's" slow flowing jazz waltzes step-by-step with his gorgeous flow: "but even at my all-time low my heart was in the right place, when I wasn't doin' shit, starin' off in space, depressed and down, messin' around, you came and checked on a dude when we wasn't on level ground."
"The Lil Folks" is telling, raw and impalpably suggestive, but SumKid can't avoid his troubles, mainly in the simple fact that he puts forth a difficult record. By way of SumKid's versatility, it's all over the place at once. So many emotions are sprayed, so much personal buckshot is scattered, it's nearly impossible to describe. Still, even this lends to its beauty, and "Lil' Folk" comes off the express line practically emitting creativity through gaseous vapors. It's Def Jux soaked in emotion, it's Andre 3000 starved and done wrong, it's a dictionary-toting backpacker's true envy. It's one thing to give praise; it's a wholly different animal for the reviewer, keenly listening with a merciless pen in hand, to forget about the ins and outs and just enjoy. Set me free? Cliched, but in a sense, absolutely. Truth be told, it's a wild trip
On "September," we find our protagonist returning to love from an unspecified absence. In his journey to, he absorbs the summer surroundings, appreciating things so small as the shades of green. But on arrival, things aren't so peachy keen. Girl tells guy "get your ish together," guy tries, but girl rejects his love. Maybe things weren't working out in bed, maybe "he" simply couldn't offer what "she" needed; it's up to the listener to decide. By September, she leaves, with only so much parting solace: "when the leaves turn a green hue, maybe then I'll need you." Deflated, Sum musters what he can to even conclude: "it was a long, long lonely fall."
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: December 5, 2006