Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cubbiebear - The Rape (2008)

Funny name, hip-hop album, metal review site. Seems like all three strikes necessary to toss this abstract piece of insanity to the dogs, right?


The Rape is a showcase of serpentine lyrical abilities, aschewing verse/chorus/verse club bumping for progressive song layouts and an affinity for post-production touchups that drive the songs further down the rabbit hole. Far from being pop-sensible, and sometimes far from sensible period, the songs often deconstruct themselves into an array of sonic chaos, scattershot samples, and potshot drumbeats amongst emotional assaults of some of the most venomous put to tape in years, the rebuild from seeming chaos into a tangible form.

Essentially, this is not Kanye West. This is Baltimore's Cubbiebear and, while the album displays a bit of immaturity and the lack of big-time financial support can hinder things, the thought process behind The Rape is pure, if a bit off-kilter, and a completely original take on the rap genre as a whole.

Trying to describe the music contained here is a bit difficult. Samples are chopped, slowed, put through turntables, twisted, and filtered to a degree that can almost seem excessive at times... but when the vocals and the beats are given the same treatment, often molding the entirety of the track into a stuttering digital trainwreck, you can't help but notice the amount of effort put into each and every tune. The samples, beats, and vocals are all extensions of the idea, and the idea is the prime controller of the process.

The rap performance here is pretty astounding, even if it is a battle-rap style. Cubbiebear does, in a way, battle through the entire CD: He passes off line after line of jagged cement haymakers at modern hip-hop culture with a certainty and conviction that's difficult to second guess. Tough shots like this one directed at 50 cent from the song "Contra":

You're not a bad motherfucker
If your demographic is only 13 and under

I can't recommend people check out The Rape enough, and the video for "Contra" can easily be found on Youtube if you're so inclined.

Verdict: Epic Win [10/10]


is this your life? said...

It's good for a debut, but I can't agree on the perfect score or completely original comment. Maybe I'm too skewed toward more abstract styles, but The Rape feels like an attempt to take underground ideas to the mainstream. The lyrics are much better than typical radio fare, but they're still pretty direct and simple, lacking strong imagery to bring the songs to life, leaving all of the weight on his focus on pointing out social issues. This causes them to be initially interesting, but not engaging on further perusal, as they don't offer much besides straight depiction and Cubbie's good but not unique reaction to them. In short, entertaining, but lacking that touch to make his "experiences" mean something to me. Same with the beats and samples - I don't feel like they're really all that engaging, even though they sound great. He needs to push that envelope, really stress the distorted atmosphere, get filthier filters over the drums, just take it further.

I do really like his delivery, though. Makes me think of a legible, reigned-in Dose. Not that Dose needs to be those, but Cubbie keeps it neat and clean without losing character, and it's a strong asset.

Despite my nitpicking, I'm glad for this review - this was a good heads-up. I'm looking forward to see how the new album goes for sure.

Rock said...

I'm not sure of the more abstract styles you're getting at, but I'm more referring to the whole package as opposed to the lyrical content itself. He's not a metaphor pounder like Aes, he's got the direct and confrontational aspect of a mainstream MC, indeed, but not the ideology. The beats themselves aren't too amazing, but the interaction between the beats, samples, and vocals are something that I don't feel has been done this well in quite a while. It's all studio, for sure, but the malleability and the nothing-sacred attitude shines through.

And the 10 minute closer "Number One" is one of my favorite songs, period. That atmospheric ending is fantastic.

I've got no doubt that Force Back to Sleep is going to kill in almost every aspect, considering the jump in quality from the Still Can't Fly EP to this album.

is this your life? said...

Yeah, I just don't think all of that adds up to a 10. It's a good start and a great foundation, but I think he isn't fully there yet.