Before saying anything else about Admiral Crumple, one has to admire the balls AC shows by including a quote in his press release that's at best a backhanded compliment: "This kid has sent us all his albums for the past four years and has written us every week for the past six months. Apparently no other magazines want to review his stuff. I still didn't get a chance to really peep his record either, but at least he's in here. So this is the lesson you learn on a slow month: perseverance pays off. There. You're in Vice kid." - MACHO, Vice Magazine
Now I can't say AC has been that persistent with RapReviews, not that he really needed to be - we're open to covering any one who takes their hip-hop career seriously enough to contact us for a review, though the sheer volume of material we receive means not everyone gets exposure. Nevertheless when you actually press, shrinkwrap and distribute a CD that clearly looks like it's meant for retail that puts you one step closer than someone offering a free zip file of their last mixtape. The intent to distribute and sell your album shows that you're serious about your craft and that there's a market for your sound. Of course the size of that market varies greatly. We've all heard the now almost mythical tales of how artists like Too $hort sold tapes out of their car trunks until the local buzz got so large a major record label took notice and put them on. Yes for a lucky few that can be the road to success, but just as many artists tour and play to audiences of 20-50 for years, sell 1-5 copies of their album at each show, and give up to take a job at the Kwik-e-Mart with a thousand unsold albums stuffed away in the closet.
It's not easy to say whether or not Admiral Crumple is headed for the red carpet or if he'll be the one sweeping it up after hip-hop's glitterati walk by. Does the Toronto based rapper have a cult following? It seems he does, though it's hard to determine the size. He's done at least one song with Cage, and thematically the only rapper he could compare to other than him is Necro. Crumple is not nearly as obsessed with raping corpses as the latter, but his self-produced beats aren't anywhere near as dope, so perhaps it's not such a good tradeoff. On "Everything Will Be Alright" he describes himself as "70% happy but over dark beats." I'd rather describe him as only flowing ON beats 70% of the time, perhaps less. To be perfectly honest his vocal tone is a bit tough to swallow too - best described as what would happen if David Spade joined Gravediggaz and tried to have a horrorcore rap career sans RZA's influence. Peep "At the Top" for example, featuring one of AC's better and more Necro-like beats:
"Perform 50 push-ups in a row
When I meditate I glow on the corner of the block
Placed in buckets of coke, big vats of heroin
It's not like it's gonna be touched by the general public
I'm here to help addicts
Cuff a button down, lookin attractive
Lovin my chick loyal pure, for super sure
Like certainty, no deaths just a lot of currency"
Eventually the rap becomes intolerable. There's a very noticeable Kool Keith influence to his flow, but sadly I do not intend this as a compliment. AC seems to have adopted the 21st century Keith Thornton trend of simply speaking over beats without trying that hard to rhyme or even keep the tempo. Keith sometimes get a pass for it as a hip-hop legend, but as much as we like him at RR, a few of his self-produced albums over the last decade are borderline to being unlistenable. With no obvious "Critical Beatdown" or "Dr. Octagon" in Crumple's past, he doesn't have the track record of highly acclaimed cult classics to be given the benefit of the doubt, although his press release would have you believe otherwise. An unusually thick five page bio lists every single instance of press AC has gotten at any hip-hop magazine or website, and to be fair it proves he's working hard to be heard.
If passion and determination were equivalent to dope beats and rhymes, Admiral Crumple would be right up there with the many artists he lists who inspire him: Kool G Rap, Redman and the aforementioned Necro among them. There's no hip-hop law of equivalent exchange though so what we've got here is an obviously hard-working artist, serious about his craft, working hard to get noticed... who just isn't that dope. There are a few songs on "Cryptology" that break through the monotonous flows such as the surprisingly funky "Special Effects Trip" and the modest boom bap of "Best Friends," and yet it's not at all shocking that these are not self-produced tracks - AC brought in Relic to handle these beats. I appreciate AC's hustle and I don't have any doubt that after a decade of repping the Bergamot housing projects in Rexdale he's got plenty of fans locally and some on a much wider basis, but the total lack of flow and often grating electronic sounds don't do it for me. It's not often I say this but I'm a little worried Crumple may be crushed by this review, because few rappers have seemed this earnest in their desire to get noticed in a long time. Perhaps this write-up of "Cryptology" will join his list of press quotes that offer somewhat backhanded compliments, and if that's the case let me give him a perfect one to use.
"Admiral Crumple offers a uniquely bleak Canadian rap perspective that definitely sets him apart from his counterparts North or South of the 54-40, but not necessarily in a good way. His style will attract fans the same way Charles Manson attracted followers, as he's obviously intelligent but clearly unfocused, with a style that's literally Helter Skelter."
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10
Originally posted: November 3, 2009