Short Songs, and More Than Enough of Them
The latest of the crop of rap outfits using pop culture references as names is Seattle’s Art Vandelay. Its new album Eye 8 the Crow doesn’t really do much importing or exporting, but rather is a straightforward delivery of a cynical outlook on everything from religion, media and death.
“The Three Rules” starts out the album, and from the get-go it sounds somewhat formulaic. Obscure television samples played over a simple piano loop: check; mid-tempo beat with building atmospheric synth noises: check. First verse about making money: check. It makes one wonder if the three rules they are referring to was something they found in a Hip Hop Self-Help book.
“So What?” starts out with the repetitive mantra, “ I’ve got that Kurt Cobain type of mind frame.” That’s kind of catchy, until you realize the reference isn’t to Kurt’s penchant for mohair sweaters but rather his ownership of a shotgun. Some artists can get away with risqué metaphors and dark humor, and others just can’t pull it off without sounding pompous and like they’re doing it for shock value. A successful example of the latter would be The Insane Clown Posse, and Art Vandelay seems to be teetering in that category as well.
Three-fourths of the songs represented on this album barely break the three minute mark and about half of those barely (if they even do at all) last longer than two minutes. Now if this was a punk record, these tracks would be considered epic and way too long, but in the realm of hip hop they just seem to be flashes in the pan; lacking anything flavorful to make them memorable.