Sunday, June 14, 2009

Skam Dust - 'Son of Skarhead'

[Dear Nate Adams: I wrote a rap review.]

My buddy Frank Zappa is on the ghost-phone; he wants to know if writing a rap record extolling the virtues of hardcore falls under the “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” rule. Skam Dust dropped a hip-hop EP, Son of Skarhead, on Eulogy Recordings last year, which will surely appeal to kids who wish Brokencyde meant it just a little bit more. With six songs totaling just under 20 minutes, it hurts. Sweet Lord how it hurts.

The Skamster comes from the school of yell-rapping popularized by Run-DMC, DMX, and others. He also enjoys the various forms and uses of words like “fuck,” “nigga,” and “gun.” Beyond profanity and yelling, there isn’t much going on. Over competently dull beats, dude shouts about being known and/or hated, making violent love to folks’ matriarchal figures, and threatening people, places, and things with guns. He also knows Madball. So… that’s something.

The songs are stereotypical gangsta rap, extolling hate and violence without really contributing anything insightful like, say, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Things Done Changed.” Instead, Skam settles for sound bites like “Fuck your mother and I fuck your brain,” from “Untouchable.” Speaking of sound bites, the guy barely raps, keeping his verses short and uninspired in between ho-hum hooks and guest rappers like Danny Diablo and Prince Metropolitan, the latter of which has an infinitely better flow than Skam. The closest thing to catchiness emerges on track two, “Godz of War (Harley is a Bitch),” if only because it crams gang mentality into the hook from Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” “Ready to Rock” repeats the trick by biting off of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.

Skam gets stuck between two worlds. His barking is too slow for hardcore, too coarse and clunky for rap. Same for his beats, which don't rock and certainly don't groove. Not that this would necessarily make his rhymes better, but the fact that Skam never tries to sample more dance-centric songs like James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” or The Meter’s “Cissy Strut” instead of super obvious classic rock sort of hints at his cluelessness. Son of Skarhead takes everything deplorable about NYC hardcore clich├ęs and converts it to lackluster rap, meaning Skam Dust sucks at two styles instead of one.

1 comment:

Mr. Dogg said...

Figures the only rap album you've listened to in the last 10 years was by a dude who was friends with Madball and, from the sound of it, just as ignorant.

Can't you give Aesop Rock another try? What about Wale? Perhaps Clipse? The YMD? Black Landlord? P-Please?