An Exceptional One-Man-Wrecking-Crew (5 stars)
, January 2, 2009
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Edan is quite a rarity in hip-hop nowadays. You often hear about emcees complaining about taking on the bulk of the work (production and rhymes) for their muddled debut, which usually results in a collaborative sophomore release. That's not the case with Edan. He's better than most producers that only produce. His flows are untouchable by most emcees. And after hearing his new album "Beauty And The Beat", it's clear that he can also engineer with the best of them. So Edan can scratch, produce, and rock the mic; so what separates Edan from the other hip-hop acts out there? Let's start with the incredibly inventive production. First of all, it's very electronic. The space is filled with dirty 80s hip-hop drums, vintage and video game samples, tripped out noises and lots of dirty reverb. It's extremely thick and layered in arrangement, leaving the desire for multiple listens. It has a certain charm and uniqueness to it that will continue to draw you in. It's not minimal by any means, although it does seem fairly accessible. The production wouldn't work as well without Edan's exuberantly humorous and fresh personality. When listening to each track, it almost seems as if Edan has an everlasting source of inspiration. Each track sounds pristine in delivery. Edan also has something in common with the multiple personalities of Madlib. As Madlib darts out with his alter-ego "Quasimoto", Edan also tweaks his voice to sound semi-similar; at one point paying tribute to Kool Keith on "Ultra '88" (the Ultramagnetic MC's era), using his helium induced flow.
Another thing I'd like to talk about is the incredibly sweet artwork (also created by Edan). Back in the 70s, these robots produced by Quasar popped up at trade fairs, supermarkets, chat shows, and shopping malls all over the place. The owner of Quasar claimed that these were fully programmable robots that were capable of completing a wide array of household chores, and would soon be available at a reasonable price. He was soon exposed of his lies when a man with a remote control was spotted controlling the robot, thus proving that Quasar's claims were to good to be true. The artwork really speaks to the feel of the album though. Although Edan uses your basic primitive tools to create the album, it's also futuristic and ahead of it's time. Much like the robots by Quasar.
There are plenty of outstanding tracks here. He proves early on with "One Man Arsenal" that he's a force to be reckoned with. One of my favorite tracks, which features a piece of classical music (Tchaikovsky, I think) is "Key Bored". It also features some killer verses like this one - "My brain is packed with frames of accurate detail / I'd rather hug a tree than fu*k around with an e-mail". We get a nice view of Edan's humorous personality on "Emcees Smoke Crack" where he boasts this clever lyric - "Egg yolks in the eyes is how I'm doin' 'em / emcees smoke crack, I smoke aluminum". My favorite track on the album is "#1 Hit Record". The production is instantly memorable and truly addictive. It definitely includes some of the tightest verses and punch lines on the album. Check 'em out - "Silver Surfer on the cerebellum / MC's rhyme at the zoo and when they're wack, parrots tell 'em". Here's another - "Raw rap suburbanite / I'm fu*kin' with religion like I didn't wear the turban right". This is a great one - "The flyest on a 12-inch / So is your girl, and she doesn't make records". "Syllable Practice" is also one of my favorites, which features a cut up Cut Chemist beat (from Jurassic 5's "Quality Control"). Edan warns us ahead of time - "I'm not gonna say anything significant; you know, but it's gonna be battle rhymes. And it's gonna sound pretty." Mr. Lif stops by for a killer appearance on "Rapperfection". "You Suck" is probably the best track on the album as far the sick production and rhymes go. Edan proves to be a great story teller with "Run That Sh*t!". A story about how he doesn't work to make an honest buck, and just jacks people for their money, food, jewelry, etc. It really is quite humorous.
Edan pays tribute nicely to the great innovators of hip-hop, including Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One, Rakim, Kool Keith, Slick Rick, among many others. His style is actually very reminiscent of Kool Keith and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. I would venture to say that I've never heard such a bold example of a love for hip-hop. Edan's psychedelic hip-hop style is definitely one of a kind. It's not at all surprising that it took an English hip-hop label to release the record. He shouldn't have that problem anymore, since he's proved to be a worthy adversary to the masses with this incredibly fun and addictive masterpiece.