Once again for the sake of full disclosure I need to start a review with a disclaimer — Wordburglar contacted me before the release of “Burgonomic” and asked if I wanted a physical copy of the his CD. In our increasingly non-physical world, I have mad respect for artists who still mint compact discs. The difference in quality between streaming audio and digitally encoded plastic discs may be minimal these days, but it’s more than the medium that conveys the message. You can’t hold a digital file in your hand. You can’t pull the liner notes out of the front of a MP3. You can’t grab Spotify by the outer edge and inner hole and insert it into your car stereo. So yes I appreciate Wordburglar not just for the hook up but for respecting an art that before long will be as retro as vinyl records. In fact I wouldn’t be shocked if you told me vinyl outsold CDs at this point.
“Every decibel I’ve ever done has been Burgonomic
Just happened this album’s the first one to have that word on it”
There are more things old school about Wordburglar than physical media though. First there’s his very traditional approach to emceeing — that means you won’t hear him doing pitch corrected AutoTune raps. It’s not that the style is “wrong” but rather that it’s overdone ever since that approach got commercial airplay. When every rapper wants to be the next big thing, it’s more refreshing to hear a rapper who just wants to rap and let his audience find him for being dope. Speaking of dope it’s also nice to hear Chuck D samples scratched into “Verse Things First” and Redman ones on “Verbal Pursuit” just two songs in (shout out to the deejay More Or Les). It used to be normal for rappers to reference each other this way, but these days new albums feel like web pages with no hyperlinks. Wordburglar’s metatextuality makes me glad “CDs Are Back.”
The thing that I appreciate about Wordburglar the most though is that he’s having FUN. I picture him with his notebook of rhymes, scribbling down lines like “I’ma get you open like a CD tray/Shout out anybody with a CDJ” and smiling at how nerdy it is, and even referencing how archaic this all is in the song’s outro. He’s also a punchline rapper in a time of emcees who brag about how hard they are, how much dope they smoke, and how many guns they pack. Again that’s not to say it’s wrong (rap has had braggarts since its inception) but alpha male machismo has gotten so cliche that a rapper who wants you to laugh at his wordplay is remarkably refreshing. Take “No ETA” for example:
“I don’t like being expected — born past my due date
Gives a bad taste like juice after toothpaste
SJ! Wordburg or just Burgie
I’ll tell you a secret, I can tell you’re trustworthy
It’s a journey… and all the laughs you have along the way
without that nah there’d never be a song to play”
The epitome of his philosophy may be when he says “selling out doesn’t pay enough.” When that’s true why not do what’s true to you instead of what sells best? That’s why Wordburglar isn’t afraid to delve into his esoteric pursuits. His love of Todd McFarlane’s works is clear on “Spawn Guy.” He and Mega Ran pay tribute to the 16 bit era on “Sega Was Bad” (and yes “bad meaning good” with the appropriate Run-D.M.C. sample scratched in). Even his affection for posse tracks is positively nerdy on “Wanna Be on My Posse Cut?” featuring Jesse Dangerously, Moka Only, Timbuktu and Touch. If only every emcee wanted to collaborate with other dope emcees this badly!
Now if I’ve said it once I’m going to say it twice — Wordburglar isn’t for everyone. He’s not going to apologize for liking video games and comic books as much as making dope tracks (nor should he) but for some listeners his approach might go beyond amusing into annoying. I wouldn’t say he ever reaches Sheldon Cooper levels, but if you want rap songs that are thugged out or bugged out, you won’t get that kind of satisfaction from “Burgonomic” except perhaps on the track “Lenny Boutilier.” Even there Wordburglar isn’t the thug — he’s just talking about “the toughest dude I ever knew” to comical effect. Some rappers act like they want to smack the shit out’cha, but Burgie just wants to have a few laughs and make you a mix CD. If you’re looking for a throwback rapper with modern production and a distinctly Canadian flair, Wordburglar is your dude.