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City Paper Noise: The Lyricists Transmittin’ Live EP

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I’ve talked-up the beats of Baltimore’s DJ Excel a bunch of times now (for sampling Stoner Metal,for making the Baltimore Club equivalent of Tortoise’s “DJ’ed”,for making the beat for E-Major’s “Don’t Worry”), and now there’s his collaboration with Port Huron, Michigan’s The Lyricists:

“Although Bmore Original released the Lyricists’ full-length L3 last year, Transmittin’ Live is the Port Huron, Mich., underground act’s first musical collaboration with DJ Excel. Excel’s blueprint is the boom-bap you expect from a crew called the Lyricists, but one of Baltimore’s most ubiquitous beat makers grabs some of club music’s energy and avant production for the EP, too.

The titular track bumps like ’90s New York, as metallic sci-fi sounds pulse and near-subliminal snippets–part Dilla Donuts style, part clipped Baltimore club vocal–of a blues singer tumble in the background. And it’s all brought back to earth by worker-bee rhymes from Illtone and Rym-Benda, and pragmatic scratches from in-house DJ, Haus Diesel.

More than comfortable spitting hard-ass battle raps, the Lyricists’ real success comes in knowing the right time to rein it in and chill-out. On “The Juggle,” Illtone matches Excel’s woozy strings by ungritting his teeth, and dropping the commanding boom. It makes a song about regret (“stress shows in the form of gray stubble”) palpable.

“Bubble Guts” employs their storytelling and simile spouting talents toward nothing more than a hilarious song about, well, taking a shit. The Lyricists trade lines back and forth (“Yo, my palms are sweaty from grippin’ handicap rails/ Droppin’ logs the size of white whales”) and DJ Haus Diesel punctuates the scat-rap with turntablism mimicking the sound of a diarrhea burst.

With Excel subtly stretching the boom-bap rap form to its limits, the Lyricists actively eschew the grotesque cliches of stubborn traditionalist hip-hop. In the past, the group has done some “rap sucks now” kvetching but, here, they trade it in for self-effacing humor and weary tales of maturation (hometown lament “P.H, MI.” and “Grown Up”).”

Written by Brandon

February 27th, 2009 at 6:38 am

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