published: 28 /
Intriguing combination of rap, electro and experimentalism on latest album from hip-hop artist, Busdriver
Although Busdriver could never be said to be making mainstream hip-hop albums, 2009’s 'Jhelli Beam' was a lot closer to a straight rap record than his latest offering, in which he stretches his vocal chords and sings on the majority of the tracks.
That’s not to say that 'Beaus $ Eros' (pronounced ‘bows and arrows’) isn’t a hip-hop record – the beats and bass lines are good and heavy, and Bus does demonstrate his rapping skills (of which he has many) on tracks like ‘Here’s to Us’ and ‘NoBlacksNoJewsNoAsians’ – but it’s probably not like any hip-hop album you will have heard before; it’s a strange hybrid of different styles, squeezed together under pressure to make something you can’t quit pin down to any one genre, which makes it an intriguing, exciting listening experience.
If I had to try and describe the music (which I suppose I do, as this is a record review) I would put it somewhere between rap, electro and Animal Collective-style experimentalism (in fact, Busdriver released a cover of AC’s ‘Leaf House’ as a single last year). The verses on ‘Colour Wheel’ sound almost like dub-reggae to me.
Belgian musician Loden takes production duties on 'Beaus $ Eros', and as such the record has a very European feel to it; the title track sounds like it could have been written by the Knife.
Busdriver’s voice and vocals have always been idiosyncratic and a little unusual, but the man can really carry a tune and his lyrics are intelligent and witty in a way most rappers could never dream of competing with. A lot of attention is given to love and relationships, on tracks like ‘Kiss Me Back to Life’, ‘Feelings’ and the frankly beautiful-sounding ‘Electric Blue’; which features CocoRosie’s Cassidy, ace MC Mike Ladd and Belgian electro-artist Joelle Phuong Minh Le (who also recently collaborated with Buck 65). Some time is also given to more political fair – ‘NoBlacksNoJewsNoAsians’ is a poem on racism and exclusion, where Busdriver’s lyrical prowess really comes to the fore: “Number 11, Birth of a Nation Remake, Disney pitch: No Blacks, No Jews, No Asians”.
I have no doubt that 'Beaus $ Eros' won’t be to everyone’s tastes; anything that mixes influences so liberally is likely to seem off-putting to some, but it would be a shame for them to miss out on something as amazing as I think this album is, and I think most people could find something to love about it if they give it the time to sink in and get a hold of them.
Utilitarian Uses of Love
Bon Bon Fire
Kiss Me Back to Life
You Ain't OG
Picking Band Names
Beaus & Eros
Ass to Mouth
Here's to Us
Swandive into a Drinking Glass