Now that we’ve got the necessary Boondocks joke out of the way, allow me to introduce Daniel Kushnir, a rapper hailing from Venice, but not the one in Italy. Pause comes from Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, an area you’ve seen in more movies and television shows than you could possibly name. Any time somebody director wants to make the point that people in California are bizarre, they just go to the Ocean Front Walk and start filming all the street artists and fortune tellers. It’s a freewheeling artistically creative community, which in my parents’ generation would have been derisively called “hippies,” but which today is recognized as one of the cultural centers of L.A.
Pause doesn’t sounds like a fortune teller or a snake charmer or even Jim Morrison though – he sounds like a traditional California emcee who if you hadn’t been told otherwise could hail from Long Beach or South Central. In fact “So Scandalous” is for all the world a G-Funk bomb straight from Snoop and homies, complete with a suspiciously George Clinton-esque singer and the trademark P-Funk twang you associate with his music. The story Pause tells isn’t anything new, but he tells it with his own flair:
“Said she seen me by the bar with a smile and she had to know me
I said, ‘I’m sorry child – I ain’t happen to notice’
One hand on her hips and she’s starin at my lips
I could TELL that we ’bout to be raw; sho’ nuff”
The producers on “Pacific Rose” are not the big names you know in hip-hop – not at this stage of their career anyway – but they do a fine job. Bird laces “That’s How I Do It” f/ Devin Mares with a thumping drum beat and some wailing guitar licks. The posse-all-in song “It Keeps On Rainin” would pass for an Alchemist or Evidence track if somebody didn’t tell you that Mnemonic did it, and Mix Master Wolf joins in the fun to provide scratching on the hook. Indy One gives “Caroline” the echoing boom bap you’d expect from an early 1990’s song from the Native Tongues. Check out the video for yourself.
Frequently with well-produced albums from independent emcees who are out to make a name for themselves, I have to ask the same question the reader undoubtedly does: “What makes you special or different from a million other people out there?” With Pause that’s a bit hard to say. Coming from Venice I had hope that he’d be on some shit other California emcees aren’t, but I can’t say that’s the case. Being that his album is called “Pacific Rose” I thought maybe there was some sort of metaphor at work about the beauty of the West coast, but there’s not really an underlying story here nor enough time for one in just over 35 minutes. And regardless of what images his name might evoke, Pause is not one long Tyler Perry parody or joke. He’s a Left Coast emcee, at or about the level of what you used to hear on The Wake Up Show, and as such is perfectly fine. Not exceptional, but not hateworthy either.