|“Unapologetic” perhaps puts too fine a point on it. This album screams “Art Rap”. It takes a deep breath, summons up all the would-be authenticity and cool goodwill it can, and bellows “Art Rap!” from the rooftops til the words have no meaning. I mean, it’s not as if they had heaps of meaning to begin with, but when we see them here – held aloft like a trophy – it’s an all but empty vessel. We don’t need to be told what genre of music you’re making, Open Mike Eagle. Your Busdriver guest spot and Californian accent have basically done that for us already. It’s not for an artist to designate his or her own genre anyway. Nor is it the job of a scene, or a fan. Genres are marketing tools. People use them to make you buy things. So, by parading a genre around like you’re the king of the world, you’ve kicked off with the wrong foot. Happily, the music you’ve made is excellent.|
Unapologetic Art Rap quickly manages to somehow shrug off its disconcerting attempt at defining a genre; it only took a few lines. The album opens at an Art Rap Party, a “shelter for battered artists, with nightly contests to see who’s been smacked the hardest. We only press half the charges, because we love the punishment like any other passive martyrs.” The drama grates, sure; as does equating Hanging Out With My Friends Who Have Similar Interests with Worthy Cultural Activity. The song will win you over though. By the second time you’ve heard the hook – half S Club 7 tribute, half Flight of the Conchords fan fiction – you’ll be cheering.
And the album only improves from there. Helicopter is neat, post-apocalyptic, playful pop politics. Unapologetic is more direct and equally satisfying. If you’ve never heard an art rap posse cut, Go Home sees the entire Swim Team assembled for a garbled, though somehow saccharine sweet, adventure on the other side of the looking glass.
The name is awful. So is the motivation behind it, I guess, but Unapologetic Art Rap is worth looking past the posturing for. There’s magic here. - Cyclic Defrost