|Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp||2003||1.91/pi|
Lineup: Beans, M. Sayyid, High Priest, and, last and least, E. Blaize.
So-called “Butterfield Dairies” makes the worst cheddar cheese in the entire world. I think the milk they used came from the wrong end of the cow. And not just any cow, I’m talking about, like, some nasty tattooed orc-cow from Mordor. Jesus.
While you’re here, let me tell you about these zany young fellows known as Antipop Consortium. Their schtick consists of arty, nonsense-laden rhymes over ever-inventive digital beats. They’re more likely to sample ping pong balls or crickets than p-funk records. In fact, there’s no electric bass guitar anywhere on this album, but don’t worry…however vaguely avant-garde things get, there’s always some freakish synth bassline or something to get your ass moving.
Aside from dicking around with their laptops, these lads also happen to be fine MCs, who will amuse and bemuse you many times over the course of the album’s slim, action-packed 43 minutes (minus one obligatory irritating skit.) True to their moniker, they’re not at all into the gangster thing—you’ll be hearing about “cats” instead of “niggas” and “chicks” instead of “bitches”—though they do occasionally work the true crime thing from a more detached perspective, as on the sting operation anecdote “Z St.” But for the most part, they stick to their bread and butter of bizarre battle rhymes and sheer nonsense. And I think all of us can agree with the sentiments of a hook like “MEGA! MEGA! MEGA! MEGA! MEGA!! MEGA!!!”
Antipop’s final album was an odd little collaboration with jazz piano dude Matthew Shipp and his band. So it’s kind of disappointing to find that such a theoretically intriguing project winds up less experimental than a normal Antipop album. The participants seem to just be having fun in the studio rather than, y’know, striding confidently forward into the glorious future of music. Still, they are having fun, and that keeps things boogieing (there’s got to be a better way of spelling that word.)
The Consortium contributes its usual abstract rhymes in a few places, but most of the album is instrumental, with Shipp drooling out piano solos all over the place while his living rhythm section battles a variety of robo-beats, like They Might Be Giants on that bizarre TV special. It’s mostly pretty sedate stuff, never too dense or heavily layered despite the theoretical possibilities of the large cast of performers. I enjoy most of it, if only because I’m easily amused (and far from a jazz expert), but don’t come in expecting a document of either group at or near the peak of their powers; this is pretty pedestrian stuff.