Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alex Henderson Strikes Again!


When conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly attacked Ludacris' explicit lyrics on The O'Reilly Factor in 2002, he inadvertently did the Atlanta-based MC an enormous favor. Ludacris was already huge, but by making him out to be the forbidden fruit, O'Reilly inspired even more people to buy his CDs. Sex and violence sell, and rappers who are quick to offer cheap thrills -- Ludacris, Eminem, Lil' Kim, 50 Cent, among many others -- will have an easier time selling albums than the alternative rappers who are big on delayed gratification. But delayed gratification doesn't mean no gratification at all -- only that listeners need to be patient, which is the best way to approach an alterna-rap disc like Celestial Clockwork. Columbus, OH, rapper Illogic doesn't go for cheap thrills or the quick fix on this 2004 release. He doesn't scream the "n-word" at the top of his lungs every 30 seconds; he doesn't use the phrase "bitches and hoes" constantly or brag out about sleeping with countless groupies. Illogic is one of rap's intellectuals, and the heritage that he brings to the table -- influences like De La Soul, Q-Tip, and Common -- makes for a more nuanced, lyrically complex hip-hop experience. Illogic thrives on jazzy beats, and like a lot of the jazz recordings that have influenced his alterna-rap, Celestial Clockwork doesn't favor immediacy. But for those who are patient, gratification eventually comes. Illogic can be overly self-indulgent at times; that's another thing he has in common with many jazz artists. Illogic's self-indulgence sometimes gets the better of him -- much like a John Coltrane solo that was memorable even though it lasted ten minutes more than it needed to. But because Illogic's creativity is at such a high level, one can live with his excesses -- and more often than not, Celestial Clockwork paints a favorable (if imperfect) picture of the Midwestern alterna-rapper.


1 comment:

Mattie-O said...

In case you're counting, that's three uses of the phrase "alterna-rap" and one mention of Coltrane solos lasting too long.