RR staff writers have on occasion espoused the philosophy "it's more kind to be cruel" when reviewing albums, believing it's far worse to give a mediocre or terrible artist the hope they can succeed than to let them bluntly know their shit just doesn't work. That way instead of spending 10-20 years recording in the hopes of establishing a musical career, they can move on to more fruitful pursuits like opening a taco stand or getting a degree in business administration. That being said the members of Face Candy undoubtedly felt maligned after reading the review of "This Is Where We Were" three years ago, because even if it was meant as a mercy killing Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez certainly didn't pull his punches delivering the one-two blows. "The album has no theme or redeeming value." "You'll have no motivation to ever waste another 45 minutes of your life listening to this."
The flip side of the harshness equation though is that not everybody is a great artist on their very first try. I once noted on an early Lil Wayne album that his lyrics consisted of "very few fully developed themes and a whole lot of shit-talking." Obviously Weezy improved dramatically over the last ten years, so much so that he's now reached a mega star status where he can do experimental rock albums for fun and not jeopardize his standing in the rap community. There are times when it's good to know you don't have it and throw in the towel early, and then there are times when a critical assessment can inspire one to strive for their full potential. While Pedro's review never mentioned Kristoff Krane by name, his online bio refers to both Eyedea and his membership in the "all freestyle group," which he professes to have enjoyed greatly. He went on from there to form the band Abzorbr, which received a somewhat less harsh assessment from Justin 'Tha Shiznute' Chandler. Krane wasn't quite there yet, but Chandler did compare him positively to Slug and Mike Shinoda.
Four years have passed since Krane's name was first mentioned in a review here, and "Hunting For Father" shows that any criticism he received here or elsewhere didn't break his spirit or dash his dreams. In fact on hearing the opening song "Inside Out" I honestly wondered if this was the same rapper who had once been scored so poorly on this site. The self-produced song flows over a pleasant combination of guitar riffs, tambourines and triangles and has a hook sung by the artist himself which is much easier to appreciate than most rappers who sing. I get the comparison to Slug right away - Krane definitely has that Twin Cities underground yet slightly Eminem style to his breath control and lyrical flow. The rap strikes me as thoughtful and well delivered - in no way a sloppy freestyle:
"Outside she shows it, inside she holds him dear
You'd never know it but from afar the scar is closer than it appears
She holds regret thinking of how she could have been a better mother
As if his sinking was a result, of her not showing him how to float or swim
The blame is not to place, just know no matter what you did or didn't do
at the end of the day, kinds are bound to bruise and misbehave
No one is raised perfect for we all make big mistakes
There's not a person in the world who can't call home a hurtful place to live"
While I can respect his articulate rap immediately, it seems that Krane found the balance he needed as an artist by crooning along with rapping. The folksy singing and whimsical whistling for the first two minutes of "Soh-Ya-Me-A-Se" may not be for everyone, but as Chandler made some positive comparisons before me I will after him by saying Krane's work here is reminiscent of Big B and Everlast. Krane switches up his approach depending on the melody underneath him. On "As Good as You" his singing is closer to rapping over the crunchy piano groove, on the minimalistic "Resourcenter" he's in full on El-Producto mode, and "My Coffin" he swings back and forth between the two exactly the way Mike Shinoda would on a Linkin Park track. At times you wonder what he'd really rather be but most songs on "Hunting For Father" make it clear he's a rapper first, and songs like "I'm Angry" make it ABUNDANTLY clear:
"Walkin by a window, look at my reflection
Little kids all dance at the dance recital
A hole in my cigarette, a ball out of air
Missed my exit, I'm already there
Runnin by a sewer cap, cross intersection
Little kids that play by the playground rules
A hole in my sock, ball up in the air
Missed my calling, I'm not in the mood (who cares?)"
Not every song on Krane's 19 track long "Hunting For Father" is a winner, but I'm not left with the impression he lacks talent or that what he offers is a waste of time one would rather not listen to again. There's a tendency towards coffeehouse folk song rapping and singing at times on tracks like "Brighter Side" and "Rocking Chair," but it's not one I hate - it just becomes a little bit repetitive at times. I know Krane must know more than one or two chords, but if you listen to only the acoustic songs you might think otherwise. Some hardcore rap heads would probably like a little less of that vibe and a little more of the beats and rhymes found on songs like "Lie to Someone You Love" and "American Pride," but Krane's doing what works for him and compared to opinions of his early rap career it works pretty well. I sense that by being more selective in his musical backdrops, paring down the number of songs and working with some outside producers he really could reach Atmosphere-ic heights, which goes to show he's come quite a long way in four years time. Given a little more time he may just get there.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 18, 2010