If there's one thing East Bay rappers don't suffer from, it's a lack of self-irony. That's the stock-in-trade of most artists featured on Bomb Hip-Hop's latest compilation, which blends contemporary production (chunky club beats and celebratory background choruses) with lyrics that are self-deprecating, and often quite ridiculous. Take Celsius 7's song "Manners," in which the emcee kvetches about people who lack proper toilet training (You need to wash your hands after you take a piss), or yak on their cell phones during movies (You're yappin on the phone, have some goddam class/If I wasn't such a pussy I'd be whooping your ass). While the common-man form is nothing new, Celsius 7 takes it a step further: calling yourself a pussy must be a cardinal sin in hip-hop. Were that line not shocking enough, the track that follows, "Disneyland," features the Rec-League All-Stars singing merrily about their favorite family-oriented amusement park. No kidding.
Perhaps there's a subtext here. Maybe hip-hop needs a self-proclaimed "pussy" to temper its heightened conception of male vanity. "Disneyland" could symbolize wish-fulfillment, escapism, or infantilism, all of which seem germane to the medium. But maybe it's not all that calculated. After all, many songs on the new Bomb compilation sound quite conventional: Eddie K.'s "Bananas" is a throwback to the hyphy movement of 2006; Shotgun Wedding Quintet's "We Take It Back" is a nostalgia rap with live instrumentation; Grip Grand's "I Chose Rap" is straight-forward braggadocio, but the sample really slaps. Midway through, Bomb Volume 2 starts to feel like a standard-issue hip-hop album, albeit one with several odd, memorable elements.
Then, at the very end, it goes off the deep end once more. Closer "1980," half-sung and half-rapped by emcee Dirt Nasty, is a salacious ode to gold chains, cocaine, and Morrissey, with a glitchy new wave beat. In Dirt Nasty's words, shit is craaaaay-zaaaay. (Bomb Hip-Hop)
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