Artist: Malkovich Music
Label: Genoa Imports / BLX Records
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: Nick D
Regardless of the art form, the usage of stream of consciousness is almost always hit-or-miss. When used effectively, it allows reader/listener a unique and unhindered view into the psyche of the artist. Sacrificing linear storylines for specific themes and feelings, a capable stream of consciousness narrator creates a vivid and precise ambience, thereby painting for the audience a more accurate picture of his or her innermost thoughts. When unrealized, stream of consciousness narration risks losing the audience with its broad, unfamiliar language. In this case, the device €™s abstract nature builds a wall between the audience and the narrator €™s ideas. As a result, using stream of consciousness can make or break the artist.
Regarding rap in particular, stream of consciousness can be a particularly trenchant and otherwise flow defining instrument, with many top MC s employing the technique (such as Ghostface, Kool Keith, and M.F. Doom to name a few). With a flow somewhere between Scaramanga and Slug from Atmosphere, rap fans can now add Malkovich Music to this list based on his performance on his solo debut, €œSkeletons. €
From the intro track to the conclusion, the listener is treated to real, potent, human emotion thanks to Malkovich and his team of producers. Malkovich lays down an unhindered pathway that twists and turns through his thought processes, be they lighthearted or catastrophic, with lyrics such as those found on the album €™s third track, €˜Old Soul €™:
“Three quarters of the world is water,
A girl is known as a daughter,
Bein €™ a boy, you €™re a son,
So that €™s what we €™re gonna call ya,
But no more time to expain,
Where you are and why you came,
The movement €™s in effect, gettin €™ stepped,
This is how you play the game,
Carry yourself correct, always show respect,
Don €™t neglect the one €™s you love,
And live life with no regrets.”
Malkovich €™s lyrics, then, while indeed abstract, are firmly rooted in human experience so their meaning are is lost on no one. When he does step out of this particular voice, however briefly, it is generally to address former girlfriends as he does on €˜Eventually €™:
“I walk through life with my heart on my sleeve,
But ya €™ll women just rip it apart then leave,
Don €™t let €˜em tell ya different this shit is a game,
Her loss but my bad,
I didn €™t know we were playin,
Don €™t ask why when you see the sensitive me,
Instead of the James that remains in your memory,
He €™s no longer like that, never will be,
€˜Cause honesty always gets me fucked up eventually.”
Introspective and insightful, Malkovich remains entertaining, enlightening, and challenging for nearly all of €œSkeletons, € while only occasionally slipping into dreariness with at least three tracks in a row being directed towards past relationships.
While solid in their entirety, the production on €œSkeletons € is a mixed bag. Produced by the likes of Nocturnal Ron, Earganic, ABCDEFG, and DJ Noble, the beats range from brilliant and complementary to overbearing and disruptive. As each producer brings beats of both types to the table, none stands above or falls below the others. Instead, the team of producers merely meld together, almost indistinguishable from the rest. The best of the production sounds like elevator music behind hard beats (which are surprisingly good as they decorate Malkovich €™s lyrics without stealing the show). The worst of the beats are close to El-P €™s soulless Sci-Fi and distract the listener from Malkovich €™s lyrics which deserve to be front and center.
€œSkeletons € is certainly a formidable debut. Featuring the fine tuned literary lyrics of Malkovich as well as pretty good production, the album is captivating and, as a result, successful. With almost all the songs being really good and a few being great, €œSkeletons € is a definite pick up for underground hip hop fans.