» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Qwel and Meaty Ogre
Freezer Burner

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

December 4, 2006
Chicago hip-hop has been built up by a bunch of small, independent labels with hardworking, talented artists. Galapagos4 has always been part of that mix, enlisting Typical Cats, Meaty Ogre, Maker, Mestizo, and Qwel for contributions to its discography.

To complete the Galapagos4 association web it is important to know that Qwel is also a member of Typical Cats and has also made good marks through appearances on other peoples' material, notably (at least to this LAS writer) Maker's "Honestly," where he raps the chorus of Nirvana's "In Bloom." Meaty Ogre is a production specialist who has helmed the board for Galapagos4 artists (Typical Cats, Robust, Offwhyte, Mestizo), up and comers like Sage Francis, and behind his own name.

Freezer Burner is a collaboration between Qwel and Meaty Ogre, who have previously worked together on parts of Qwel's albums If It Ain't Been In A Pawn Shop, Then It Can't Play The Blues and The Rubber Duckie Experiment. This time around - Qwel's fifth full length and Meaty's second feature full album - the duo operates more as a collective than as lead/supporting actor.

With both names equally bright on the marquee, listeners get a record that is simultaneously easy and challenging to listen to. The easy side is Meaty Ogre's production; one area of his talents lies in creating excellent mid-tempo, soul/funk backbeat, straight-forward hip-hop beats. He brings those low bass drum thump and intermittent snare ghost notes, and the rhythms are felt peripherally instead of being noticing smashing to the forefront.

Meaty Ogre also crafts the sampled melodies and hooks of the album. The parts he uses are usually short and rhythmic, and give ample room for Qwel to operate while also maintaining a certain identity of darker, underground hip-hop catchiness. Often it is conventional instruments that Ogre utilizes - sharp rhythm guitar, harmonica (listen to "Saved" and the Western-reminiscent "I Forgive 'Em"), electric bass, and keys - to be the backing band.

While supported by Meaty Ogre's backbone, the centerpiece of Freezer Burner is Qwel's rhyme scheme. This is also the somewhat challenging part. Not like 'challenging' in a fusion-jazz, math-rock, experimental noise sort of way, but more like a test of active listening. Qwel is an MC known for his quick flow, significant and clever wordplay, and aggressive presentation. The most prominent of these characteristics is his constant barrage of ideas and words. It is inevitable that listeners will miss some thoughts here and there, but the overall messages that he puts out are loud and clear. In between "Read Writer" and "Saved," the MC confesses that on his judgment day he wants to be known for doing something with a purpose, not for writing inconsequential fluff. To his credit there are many important topics covered in the 16 tracks - world conflict, hip-hop culture, God, and most importantly, Qwel's opinion of them all.

Popular hip-hop listeners with an aching sweet tooth should make a point of checking out Freezer Burner, as it provides a deft look into the fruits of hip-hop's core style and is especially appreciable while the genre's high profile artists flail to make candy jams. Non hip-hoppers should grab it because it is an album that would give them proven insight to a slice of artistic culture. And underground hip-hop lovers will indulge on a record that further cements their own cause.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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