Bio (from docdelay.com): After almost 3 years, my buddy Godforbid and I, have finally finished our little project we started as ambitious pollution breathers. Super huge thanks to Jeremy Page for co-producing and coaching through the whole thing, Thirtyseven for the call response vocals on “Sodapop,” and Kevin Blackler for Mastering by a master.
Musicians: Produced by Doc Delay (T. Shiner), Co-Produced & Mixed By Jeremy Page, Vocals Performed and Written by Godforbid (C. Oppel), Additional Vocals on “Sodapop & Bubblegum” by Thirtyseven (J. Boland), All Scratches by Doc Delay, Mastered by Kevin Blackler
I’m a big fan of hip-hop… and before someone gets all uppity and feels the need to try and explain to me that hip-hop is a combination of four elements (five if you include beatboxing, which some people separate out), and what I’m talking about is just two of those elements: yeah, I know. I choose to say “hip-hop” because it is a lot more recognizable term than “MCing” or “emceeing” for most people, it’s easier than saying “emceeing and DJing” over and over again, and if I say “rap” that conjures up the wrong images in my brain. For me, rap means commercial, it means heavy thumping boring beats with someone that may or may not be skilled rapping on it, probably talking about bitches and hoes and gangbanging. And again, before anyone feels the need to school me, I know that not all commercial rap is gangsta rap, and not all commercial rap is bad; that’s just the image that comes up in my mind.
With all of that being said, it makes sense that most of the hip-hop I really enjoy gets little to no play on the radio or airwaves. AMERICAN STYLE CARDBOARD, I assume, will continue that trend, and that’s truly too bad because if “the masses” could get a little taste of what really good hip-hop is like maybe the drivel out there might be a little less popular. But, likely, unfortunately, “the masses” wouldn’t get ASC… the bar is set too high for the average jumper. So, quality entries into the genre will be doomed to never be too big, because their target audience is just too small.
Doc Delay, along with help from Jeremy Page aka Germ, has created one of the most interesting hip-hop albums (EPs? Eight tracks is such an awkward length, I’m not sure how to describe this release…) I’ve heard in a very long time. ASC has beats that make your neck sore, but at the same time it has beats that tickle the brain. This is complex hip-hop. So many hip-hop productions suffer from finding one good hook, then repeating it over and over and over and over, then adding a little something on top and calling it a chorus, or taking a little something away and calling it a break. Not ASC. The tracks vary from very soulful (“Pity Party”) to glitchy, almost Squarepusher-esque electronica (“Idle Worship”), to earlier DJ Shadow styled instrumental (“Baltimore to Buenos Aires”), to dirty, grimy, neo-noir (“Selling Sleep”). There is no lack of creativity to be found on this release.
Over the course of the last few years, Godforbid has become one of my favorite vocalists out there. I was introduced to his work through That Handsome Devil (see my review for their most recent release here), in which he mostly sings; I say “sing” but it is really more like a grungy crooning, tinged with cigarette butts and whiskey breath. In a beautiful way. After discovering That Handsome Devil, I found out that Godforbid was originally known for being an emcee in a group called Alaskan Fishermen, so I searched out their album. He was one of a trio of emcees, and I felt stood out on that release. Upon hearing that he had another release back as an emcee, I was immediately interested to check it out.
Godforbid has an odd flow, but not in any sort of bad way. There’s a calmness in his delivery, I can see him at the studio in a La-Z-Boy, feet up with a beer in his hand as he delivers his vocals. Godforbid is a great storyteller, and that is as evident on ASC as on any of his other releases. The fact that Godforbid can sing adds to his vocal prowess; there is no need to bring on a guest to sing the choruses, and this adds to the cohesiveness of the album. The only guest on the entire release, Thirtyseven, appears on the last track, “Sodapop & Bubblegum.” His delivery is actually quite reminiscent (at least on this track) of Godforbid’s; if he wasn’t listed I might have even noticed that there was another emcee on that track. On “Selling Sleep” Godforbid is his own back-up, as this track has a verse with call-and-repeat lyrics and Godforbid does both the calling and repeating – which is nicely accentuated by the fact that there are two versions of his chorus playing, one over the other, so the “two Godforbids” come together in the chorus – and on “Sodapop & Bubblegum” Thirtyseven steps in for Godforbid #2 in nearly the same capacity.
Overall I greatly, greatly enjoyed ASC. This is a great underground release from a well respected DJ and emcee, both of whom should be more famous than they are. ASC shows that head-rocking hip-hop doesn’t have to be made up of boring bass-heavy beats and braggadocio; it can be intelligent, introspective, creative, musically challenging, and different, and still make asses shake. Doc Delay and Godforbid prove the fact with ASC.
Overall 8.5 / 10