The corporate-bashing, ironically-named, nerdcore Chicago producer/MC, Phillip Morris, is not beyond comparison, but the comparisons will not be helpful to those lacking an unhealthy obsession with hip-hop. He’s a black Tim Fite, a good-natured Quasimoto, Vordul Mega with a sense of humor, Paul Barman with flow, etc., etc. These points of reference are not useful. They only became meaningful to me since I started prizing rap hipsterdom over social interaction, but, hey, if masturbating while listening to Digable Planets b-sides is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Say what you will, it hasn’t been that long since I got laid. The point is, Phillip Morris’s latest release, “The Process of Addiction Has Its Costs,” is fucking brilliant.
Unless you hate nerds, ‘cuz this cat sure is one. He’s got a nasally-ass voice with video game-ish, but still incredibly effective, beats. And on “The M.I.L.F. Song,” he dedicates a whole track to narrating a pornographic fantasy about his motherboard. That’s some nerdy shit. So is bragging about your ability to bag 45-year old white women. So is boasting about how your anti-social love of non-fiction television stops you from going out much. But what’s so redeeming about “The Process of Addiction” is that, beneath all the tongue-in-cheek braggadocio about liking documentaries more than bling, Phillip Morris is an exceptionally talented MC.
Indeed, as much as he revels in his own geeky non-conformity, at the end of the day, Morris is not relying on personality gimmicks. He doesn’t need to. His wordplay is some of the best I’ve ever heard. Interweaving double take-inducing puns into complex rhyme structures, he flows with an effortless, high-pitched-but-never-grating conversational delivery. And he spits genuine insight and humor about any number of topics without coming across as condescending or pretentious. At least not in a bad way. Otherwise put, he’s like Eminem, just not such a dick.
That’s not to say he doesn’t throw plenty of punches. Ragging on everyone from computer geeks to gangster rappers to corporate execs, Phillip is no pacifist, but, more than at anyone else, he takes aim at himself. According to Phillip Morris, Phillip Morris is an inadequate lover who would rather sit alone smoking weed and making bouncy-yet-sparse beats on his laptop than having a girlfriend or even watching a decent movie.
Still, Phil is not a depressive. At least not in a bad way. There’s an integrity to his debilitating self-pity. Maybe it’s that his miserable kvetching is filled with poignant observation. Maybe it’s that he manages to take ownership of his own lameness. Or maybe it’s just that, hopeless as he seems, after listening to “The Process of Addiction Has Its Costs” a couple times, you start to realize that everyone else seems worse.