Indie hip-hop today is a hard hustle, just ask the folks at Embedded Music. Not to familiar with them? Well, Embedded is a forward-thinking NYC indie imprint, that is run by the guy who runs another forward thinking NYC indie imprint, Definitive Jux. That man would be Jesse “DJ Ese” Ferguson, and while El-P owns Def Jux, Embedded is Ese’s house. So while the two labels have been operating side by side for a while now, it’s only natural that we’d see some kind of merger, or at least, team-up, somewhere down the road. Last year, Cool Calm Pete’s critically acclaimed Lost LP was picked up by Jux for distribution in the U.K., while Embedded handled it’s U.S. distro. This year, we see the release of Junk Science’s Grandad’s Nerve Tonic with the copyright info reading “2007 Embedded Music, Under Exclusive Liscense To Definitive Jux”. So there you have it.
While Embedded may not have big names like El-P, Aesop Rock, RJD2, or Mr. Lif attached to it’s roster, it’s important that most of those guys were nobodies before the creation of Jux. That being said, Embedded might have a bright future ahead of itself, tapping into NYC’s massive Nuclear Family crew, with Junk Science. Made up of emcee Baje One and producer Snafu, the duo present a brand of underground hip-hop that just might make them the next backpack crew that every college kid can relate to.
Baje’s rhyme style is somewhat remiscent of Aesop Rock’s in it’s sarcasm, but he is a much more of a straight-forward emcee. Not overly poetic or too kooky with his delivery, Baje presents himself as the ultimate overworked-slacker-revolutionary. Introducing himself on “Slojo”, he kicks the ill-communication over a lo-fi, hard-hitting beat from Snafu, mixing political soap-boxing with a drunken slur. “Do It Easy” finds the duo utilizing the same formula, as Baje struggles to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, just before Snafu chimes in with a neck-snapping Eric B & Rakim sample for the hook, suggesting a few more winks. Perhaps his strongest moment is “Jerry McGuire”, a humorous “Take This Job and Shove it” type of rant, where Baje lists the ten commandments of quitting your job. But the stand-out track of the album is “Third Person Stealth”, where Baje abandons his wittier side and shows his true value as a poet. Here, he vividly describes a scenario of a man escaping prison, with startling clairevoiance. Snafu also really proves his worth as here, starting the song with the untouched sample, and then chopping it into something completely unrecognizable (and also, dope).
While Grandad’s Nerve Tonic doesn’t quite strike a chord like Labor Days might have upon first listen, there is definitely talent in Junk Science. Some might be turned off by Snafu’s basement beat production style, which is comparible to a Madlib or Blockhead in certain aspects, while others may find nothing intriguing about Baje One as emcee. There will be many others, however, that embrace Grandad’s Nerve Tonic as their new beverage of choice. – D.T. Swinga
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