Saturday, January 10, 2009
MC Frontalot - Final Boss (2008)
MC Frontalot represents a lot of what I love about underground music. He has taken a concept so bizarre and outlandish as nerdcore rap, and invested so much talent and creativity into it that he's not only legitimized the genre, but expanded the entire sound. Final Boss is his most diverse and impressive album thus far, and if there is justice in this world, his music will start reaching far beyond the Penny Arcade geek scene which has already transformed him into something of a demigod. Traces of soul, electronica, pop, funk, and jazz all blend nicely into a beautiful painting, with his dorky flow as the brush.
Of course, the joys of this album come at a cost...the first two tracks are its most dull and uninspiring. In "Wallflowers", he's got decent flow, but the 'Do the Margaret Thatcher' refrain is weak and the music is merely annoying. "Tongue-Clucking Grammarian" is better, with a nice, uptempo beat and a few cool sounds in there, but still one of the weak tracks here. After these, the rest of the album is golden. "Shame of the Otaku" is a fucking J-Pop song...with Front rapping the verses. It's quite nice, and quite true to its source...this sounds like something you'd actually hear on some domestic pop there (I should know, I collect the stuff). "Canadia" is a nice electro rap, Front shares the vocals with Jesse Dangerously and Wordburlgar, and his chorus is just magnificent. The song is a nice mockery of the US's supposed national xenophobia, targeting its least likely neighbor. "The AM Radio Skit" is...well, strange. "Scare Goat" is a groovy, 80s nu wave gothic soul inflected tribute to cryptozoology. "Diseases of Yore" is a cheesy, tongue-in-cheek, dance backed devotion to the fatal maladies of history. "Black Box" is a political track about voting, featuring some input from Random. Other highlights include the excellent "In Arrears", with some nice singing in the chorus; "A Skit About Vocation" which features actor/geek Wil Wheaton RAPPING ABOUT FUCKING SEAFOOD ('Shellfish, specifically' hahaha). The album closes with the incredible title track, which is of course rapped through the perspective of its namesake, the classic video game boss. Absolutely incredible.
What more to be said here that Front doesn't say already in his clever, cerebral lyrics? He seems to branch out a lot into other subjects than just the normal video game worship, but it works. He makes a tasteful use of his guest rappers and singers, they all shine on the album. The band knows how to write a hook, and it's such an original blend of styles well worth the attention. Front remains the elder statesman of this blossoming micro-genre, and unlike a few of his...errr, more annoying peers, I think he has some staying power. This album proves it. Can't wait for the next.
Verdict: Win [8/10] (doesn’t matter how you struggle, never gets you past the end)