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A rapper wields his sense of humor

October 30, 2005|Soren Baker


"The Loneliest Punk"

(Delicious Vinyl/The Lab)

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SINCE the 1980s, the brazen, controversial music of EazyE, N.W.A, Ice-T and a host of others has made such an impression that Los Angeles rap has never been able to shake its gangster association.

The group that came the closest to popularizing another, less confrontational sound from L.A. was the Pharcyde, a playful, self-deprecating quartet whose tales of unrealized love and totally realized pain were as moving as they were artful.

A decade after leaving the Pharcyde, the most imaginative and perceptive member of the group resurfaces with his debut solo album, a largely deranged affair that showcases a warped sense of humor, a strangely appealing, off-key singing style reminiscent of the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, and an explanation for his lengthy hiatus.

Fatlip addresses that last matter on "Writer's Block," a silly expose on his inability to come up with source material for his raps. Fatlip admits that he's never been shot or been to jail -- seemingly required calling cards for modern-day rappers -- but he wonders aloud if it would help his career and his writing if he had. But when he details a failed relationship in "The Story of Us" and offers a warped look at strip club culture in "Freaky Pumps," it's obvious that whatever blocks he's encountered haven't hampered his creativity.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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