Why?’s Jonathan ‘Yoni’ Wolf is an “alt rapper” with enough wit and tact to pull the “backpacker” genre of hip-hop straight from the ashes of the indie rap game. The three-piece outfit has recently dropped the EP, Sod in the Seed, a seamless melding of quirky, Darwin Deez-like pop and wordy, dictionary-busting rhymes a la Blackalicious. Why does this album work? Unlike the rap/rock gimmicks of yesteryear, Why? aims at being honest and unique without exploiting the cliches of the hip-hop and indie rock.
“Sod in the Seed,” is a fun, yet oddly morose, lamentation of the life of a non-mainstream musician, scraping by as a conscious American, but not god-like enough to dump on fans. Yoni sings, “I’ll never shirk this first world curse / a steady hurt and a sturdy purse,” meaning the coin he’s making while delivering his music isn’t all that bad, but maybe there’s just something missing.
“The Plan” kicks off with a country-soul Hammond, with Yoni crooning like a warbly Cass McCombs. Although no rapping is actually heard, Yoni manages to fit in his style of wordplay and delivery in melodic form. The translation of genres is key in making this release work.
The closing track, “Shag Carpet,” opens with Glee-like “oohs” and “ahs,” and although no one ever likes to hear their music being described as Glee-like, it really works with the slow-march drums backing the Yoni’s verses.
By now, you realize Yoni and his gang aren’t doing something necessarily groundbreaking, but rather innovative in terms of not calling attention to the fact that they’re melding two genres in an atypical fashion. The cute instrumentation (spunky xylophones) and Yoni’s self-deprecation meets rap braggadocio keeps listeners wondering if this group even cares about being “hip” and just genuinely making good music. Either way, Sod in the Seed is something we all needed.