25 November, 2012@6:49 pm
We’ve reached a point in hip-hop where consumers can’t trust what the major labels are selling them, making it harder and harder for buyers to throw down their hard-earned cash for music. With the indie scene moving from 12″ vinyl to the blogs over the last five years, much of the best new music is free, a price that pretty much any hip-hop fan can get behind. Case in point is Action Bronson and Alchemist’s Rare Chandeliers LP, something that could have easily moved a steady amount of units if pressed up, but was instead given away free.
Both Al and Action are some of the most prolific artists in underground hip-hop at the moment, with no shortage of tracks in the vaults just waiting to be released, among multiple album releases in the last year or so. Rare Chandeliers is clearly the result of the duo sharing lots of drugs, and then throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, so like Russian Roulette before it, this album has sort of a “one-take” quality to it. Almost a spiritual successor to Alchemist and Curren$y’s Covert Coup, it really shows how effortlessly these two produce quality music, even when not taking it too seriously.
The tone of the album balances from disturbingly off-kilter to stoned-hilarious, such as on the title track, “Rare Chandeliers”, which finds Al cutting up samples from The Antique Roadshow, while Action threatens to “stick knives where you poop.” While Al is known for his ridiculous production skills, we do find him pairing things down a bit on tracks like “The Symbol” and “Eggs On The Third Floor”, yet his knack for selecting the right loops, coupled with Action’s brand of fine-art rap makes it stick. As expected, we do find some brilliant moments in production here, such as on “Randy The Musical”, which plays sort of like a three-part act, or “The Symbol”, a basement beat that might make a ’96 era Jeru The Damaja jealous.
Action Bronson displays lyrical brilliance on tracks like “Mike Vick”, which pretty much defines his style, which trades usual rapper braggadocio or punchlines for his own brand of super-visual, abstract rhymes. The guests come through to help round things out as well, such as Schoolboy Q, who delivers one of his best performances in recent memory on “Demolition Man”. Also notable is Evidence on “Bitch I Deserve You” and Sean Price on “Blood of The Goat”.
In truth, the whole album plays solidly throughout, even if this seems like the two are screwing around half-of-the-time. It’s a more focused release than Al’s Russian Roulette, but not quite as consistant as Action’s Dr. Lecter. While this free album gives us a taste of what they are capable of, we can only imagine what a full-fledged studio LP might produce. Who knows, it might actually be worth paying for.
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