Busdriver & Radioinactive with Daedelus
aedelus weaves discarded remnants of childhood artifacts with fractured drums and bubbling synths to create an off-kilter aural tapestry rich in playful imagination."
"Busdriver, whose vaudevillian showmanship and acerbic wit intertwine with dizzying wordplay, makes himself a candidate for the definitive thinking man’s MC."
"Radioinactive defies conventional rhythms in favor of letting his words alternate between dirge and rapid-fire, the canvas ultimately drenched in his masterstroke odes to stream-of-consciousness."
"Combined, the post-modern wordsmiths' free-association raps and blip-hop backings astound the listener, making one question the very nature of communication itself – this is the avant-rap release you’ve been waiting for."
Dear Stylus reader, you don’t know how much I wanted this review to be nothing but gushing hyperbolic praise. I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “Repent for ignoring such a gifted MC like Busdriver for so long; his most recent magnum opus will make you true believers!” The Weather was supposed to be the crowning jewel in the MC duo’s respective careers to date. What went wrong?
When I said free-association, I meant intermittently interesting, yet ultimately tedious exercises in self-indulgence. With few exceptions, each track has no substantial meaning, and disembodied lines are seemingly strung together out of rote exercise. For each couplet that bears the trademark biting humor and insight these MCs are known for, it’s surrounded by ones that were culled from the “needs work” section of their rhyme books. It’s only when a concrete theme is carried out, such as their flippant take on the recent underground rap cliché of criticizing big business and the United States’ power consumption on “Pen’s Oil,” that a track is wholly enjoyable. On tracks like “Pen’s Oil,” the MCs work with Daedelus’s quirky production, instead of fighting against it. When that’s not the case, you have the unfortunate experience of hearing Busdriver croon over a samba beat, or Radioinactive go off on abstract tangents involving flying saucers, basketballs and violent episodes. Even when technically impressive, such as Busdriver freestyling from a given vocabulary list for seven minutes on “Thousand Words,” the results don’t warrant much in terms of longevity. Sure, the trademark bebop-influenced dexterity ala Mikah 9 is there, but there’s no purpose or structure to the vocal gymnastics.
It’s not that any track on the album is actually bad when compared to artists doing similar work – it’s just that it does nothing to differentiate them from the pack. It’s the “throw in everything including the kitchen sink, and hopefully it’ll work itself out” mentality at work again, and the end product is expectedly uneven.
Why would Busdriver, who on his 2002 masterpiece Temporary Forever had songs denouncing the intellectual-fetishizing of token black artists while discarding the rest, and targeted white MCs that didn’t recognize hip-hop’s roots and falsely felt they were advancing the art, release an album that has more in common with Reaching Quiet than Freestyle Fellowship? Perhaps when guest MC Circus states, “The yolks on your face, cause I tricked you into thinking that this was actually dope, cool, stuff, when all along it really wasn’t,” he wasn’t chiefly referring to other artists on the static-cum-bassline backing of the closing track, ”Barely Music.” Maybe he was indicting The Weather, as well. Whatever the case, it’s the listener that comes out worse for wear.
Reviewed by: Fredrick Thomas
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01