» 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
Beauty and the Beat
Lewis Recordings

Rating: 8/10 ?

July 25, 2005
I can barely listen to rap music; I don't think I've purchased a rap album since Wu-Tang Clan released Enter the 36 Chambers in 1993 (Though I was given Deltron 3030's self-titled album in 2000 and enjoy it a lot). The music that has taken over the radio is terrible and there are far too many gangsters out there to make anything that sounds unique.

A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul both had great albums in 1993 (Midnight Marauders and Buhloone Mindstate, respectively), but, at least personally, even the heroes fell flat after that. It has been more than ten years since I've felt good about the genre and its progress. Friends have told me to look up certain artists and albums - they knew I would love the new MF Doom and Kanye West - but I haven't had the energy to get into any new hip-hop. It can be tiring; to an admirer of the classics, it's all the same and it will never be as good as it was. That's the old white man in me coming out.

A few months ago, a friend of mine (who has been a big musical influence in my life) was playing this new record from Edan. From the get-go, "Polite Meeting" kicks matters off as a smooth and energetic instrumental/sample-heavy piece, setting the stage perfectly. I asked him what was playing - he turned to me in shock and asked, "You haven't heard Edan? This is his second album and it's even better than the first." He then proceeded to go through his hip-hop collection to try to get me into everything I've missed.

I told him what was playing was a good place to start and to leave it at that.

Once you hear the first verse of "Funky Voltron," you know what's in store. Effects and samples lay on top of cool drum loops and seamless transitions; the majority of these thirteen songs are innovative and easy to enjoy. Even Edan's sloppy flow adds to his personality (which is in danger of going overboard, but luckily isn't there yet) and the uniqueness of the disc.

With solid sampling and the support of his DJ, Insight, it's clear a lot of thought and collaboration works to Beauty and the Beat's success. There are a lot of rap songs in which MCs speak about their relationship with their DJs: Guru and Premier had a great bond, which made Gangstarr such a force back in the day (before all that mellow jazzy shit). Edan tributes "The Science of the Two" to his DJ, and as the sample heavy, fast paced song becomes one of the strongest on the album, it works to their mutual credit. Beginning with a James Brown drum loop and some spacey sound effects, Insight and Edan have a similar bond to Guru and Premier, intergalactic sound effects and all. All sorts of Star Trek-style sounds can be found throughout any Gangstarr album - Premier was kind of a wicked genius that way - and the tradition is carried on here.

Things do slow toward the end of the disc - all the once-favorable sloppiness weighs the album down, pushing the momentum and the audience away - but the first three-quarters of Beauty and the Beat stands as something to be admired. It will take some time, but this may be just the diving board needed for disillusioned classic hip-hop fans like me to spring up and into the better side of the present sound.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig



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