|Thavius Beck, a veteran of the Los Angeles underground hip-hop scene, opens Thru with a repetitive voice over jumpy, whirling synth notes. "New ideas/Sonic sound," says an anonymous speaker, presumably Beck himself. Everything is real." The beats are knotted and dark, establishing a tension that doesn't lift for the remainder of the album. Other voices emerge from the fog. Saul Williams delivers a performance of his poem "Lyrical Gunnplay," levelling his stentorian flow against Beck's gauzy loops. 2Mex appears for "Dedicated to Difficulty," racing over a series of complicated verses about alienation.|
Much of Thru is apirational. Beck and his guests criticise phony aspects of hip-hop culture and personal setbacks with the same intimate anguish, seeking to rise above both. On "Reaching," Beck raps, "So what part do you play in this scheme?/Do you got a Glock next to a triple beam?/Or work hard around the clock for another's dream?/Or lost hope, chase dope, living like a fiend?/Or one of those in-between?" Later, on "Dichotomy," he adds, "My mind awakes its most emotive state/In preparation of sound creation/To escape the perpetuation of a cycle of self-degradation." These motivational raps don't blunt the serrated edge of Beck's beats. Instead, they make the songs harrowingly vivid.
As a sort of dream-pop hip-hop, thru sounds strange and disembodied. Beck's tracks aren't always effective, "98" in particular, depite its best intentions, slips into bathos. The spaced out vision that permeates throughout, however, is undeniably impressive. - Wire