Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #19 Busdriver - Roadkill Overcoat
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#19 Busdriver - Roadkill Overcoat
Busdriver rightly made our Top 100 Artist list where he was described as: "Possessing a hyper-literate, intellectual style of rapping augmented with dizzying elocution that would tongue-tie even the fiercest auctioneer." Yeah. Makes me think of Coltrane, which wouldn't really be accurate. Regan J Farquhar, aka Busdriver, is more of a Charlie Parker. He can rap like a melodic machine gun, then pull back and do a nice harmonious loop at quarter of the speed without a flinch. Nowhere are these talents more evident and refined than on 2007's Roadkill Overcoat (check out "Pompous Posies! Your Party's No Fun" to start).
A lot of critics didn't really know how to spin this one, troubled by Farquhar's unrelenting lyrical barrage; or conversely, finding the album too accessible and hit oriented. Dichotomies usually flow out of controversy, or brilliance. There's both here.
Controversially, Busdriver messed with the lo-fi values that had defined him and much of the underground hip hop scene that stands, with few exceptions, against the overproduction that's viewed as "mainstream". There's much more of a "produced" sound and feel to this album. But, it's not overblown by any means. And, besides, is good production work really a drawback?
There's no shortage of controversy in the lyrical content. That's been around through all his albums. There's all the hip bite as well. One my favorite lines of 2007 was: "I saw your sub genre in a passing glance, it was you and your DJ in matching pants" from "Sun Shower", (the guy has meter galore).
On the brilliance side, beat consulting from two bProp favorites, Elvin "Nobody" Estella and Boom Bip, achieved a musical intensity and variance that matches the lyrical delivery. Styles mix rapidly; you find drum and bass, underground techno, and ambient in a single track ("Kill Your Employer"). The LA electronic influence also often helps to create a rich ambient landscape for Busdriver's unremitting raps that adds an uplifting foil to the stark messages ("The Troglodyte Wins"). There's a trippy feel underlying the music - most obvious with Bianca Casady in "Go Slow", or "Mr. Mistake (Bested by the Whisper Chasm)."
This album takes time to sink in for some. There's a lot you'll miss the first time. If you didn't care for this project when you first heard it, go back. It's one of the best album's of the decade.
- Ken Manning
Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.
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