Rob Sonic is the mouthpiece of Sonic Sum, now spitting over his own beats whilst producer Fred Ones drops his own solo debut. Whereas Phobia Of Doors is as varied and colorful as the platoon of guest MCs it featured, this Telicatessen is a more homogenic and dour establishment, stocking fractured narratives from the white intellectual urban dystopia, over a bleak backing of old school, electro-infused b-boy breaks. With his impressive
rhythmic flow, angrily abstract lyrical content and love/hate relationship with the city, it’s hard to think of a more suitable label for him to be part of than Def Jux, and whether you’re Jukie fan or not, this release probably won’t alter your opinion.
However this is not to say that Rob Sonic fails to carve out his own musical identity. His beats may be stark and synth-based, but rather than mimic El Producto’s sprawling, self-destroying sound, he keeps things simple and potent; the treated blasts of opener “Strange Hammer”, and the rapidly
pulsating basslines that sweep through the pounding rhythms of “Super Bowl” and “Dylsexia” may be dark and slightly alien, but they’re also undeniably funky breaker soundtracks.
Rob Sonic’s delivery of his enigmatic multi-syllabics doesn’t vary much (neither, for that matter, does the tempo of the tracks), and the feeling that he’s often being clever rather than meaningful can be slightly frustrating. But every couple of bars redeemingly poetic and evocative lines stand out, as he deals with the contemporary working mindstate (“80 hour weeks and you speak like a stone”, or “all work and no play makes me American” from the driving “Shoplift”) or ponders his lonely place in a crammed society where “you’re not a human/you’re a sardine that knows too much”: his “sanity’s a patron on a dollar bus” whilst he remembers “carving *I was not here*/during an air raid/so it’s under the desk”.
Taken as a whole, Telicatessen is rather monotonous and could do with more guest spots like “Sniper’s Picnic”, where Hangar 18 and DJ Big Whiz rip things up alongside Rob. When Rob Sonic is direct enough to bid you “all/face that wall/embrace that raw/taste for adventure? Then break that law” and those basslines get pumping, though, his energy and determination are hard to resist.
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