Even though this is their third album for an established indie label in the last four years, Swamp Thing doesn’t even rate a footnote on Wikipedia’s disambiguation page, perceived as being less important than the DC Comics character and various properties accidentally or purposefully related to it. One third of the group rates an entry though – Timbuktu has his own page even though Chokeules and Savillion don’t. It doesn’t make much sense but then few things about the “notability” of Wikipedia entries do in general, so let’s say for RR purposes all three are firmly established and “notable” in hip-hop.
I’d normally advise artists signed to any size label to be concerned about the overall output when releasing more than one album a year, knowing the inherent risk that stretching yourself too thin brings to the quality of your musical output. In fact you might catch a case of deja vu listening to “Outer Limits” given that the same guest stars reoccur. Ghettosocks can be found on three songs – “Forbidden Planet,” “Corinians” and “Swamp Man,” Wordburglar guests on three tracks as well, and even D-Sisive returns for the pounding drums of “Strangers.”
It’s the usual intelligent cameo from Derek Christoff, but the reason that “Outer Limits” isn’t overkill is that the same goes for the crew as a whole. Moreso than many of their contemporaries, their album titles reflect an overall conceptual theme and format, one which is launched (pun intended) with the opener “Space Helmet.” A cleverly chosen Kool Keith sample seems tailor made for the science-fiction inspired song: “Now my helmet’s on, you can’t tell me I’m not in space.” A haunting and hypnotizing backdrop is like a choir of angels singing your way through the atmosphere as you rocket toward the infinite inky blackness of the cosmos.
A good presentation would be meaningless without the lyrics to back it up, but the self-aware punchlines mock the very idea that Swamp Thing might be overdoing it, “the way Swamp makes more tracks than Based God.” It’s the combination of this wit and the B-movie samples ideal for MST3K that hold “Outer Limits” together, with tracks like “Forbidden Planet” promising “travel where no man has dared to go” for both the protagonists and the listener. Clocking in at only 48 minutes long, this is interstellar travel at warp speed on steroids, cutting the travel down to less than 1/24th of a calendar day.
Even at the outer limits of warp engines (pun again intended) seen in Star Trek, transversing vast galactic distances took days, though that certainly beats the travel limits we now accept. Dr. Reinhardt reminds us to be optimistic in the song’s outro: “The word ‘impossible’ Mr. Booth, is only found in the dictionary of fools.” Even though their use of pop culture to hold the album together would work equally well with other sources of material, I can’t help but find their interpolation of elements like Sadat X on “To the Next” and DJ Snake on “Beam Down For What” inspired. Swamp Thing set out to make a clever, compelling rap album that was as “Out There” as the sci-fi it samples from, and like a dog with its favorite bone they just refused to let go. From “Flight” to “Wasteland” it all holds together, and the massive posse song “Meat Lump” at the end is the joyful exclamation point to a very successful project.