Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mr Blue Collar

Play it: Rhymefest - Blue Collar

For folks that thought it was a one-time 'dabbling' when Jon Brion collaborated with Kanye West on 2005's great Late Registration, it's obvious it wasn't, as he recently helped produce (along with DJ extraordinaire Mark Ronson and Kanye West) the debut album from Chicago rapper Rhymefest (Blue Collar, released last week.)

"Oh my God, I love him!" says Brion of Rhymefest. "That guy is absolutely for real." Then he goes on to answer the genre-hopping question, "as for myself, I think for years, whatever assumptions people have had, I would like to think by now they realize I'm not really in any camp whatsoever."

Rhymefest, you might recall, is responsible for co-writing some of Kanye West's hits, including "Jesus Walks," so he's a grammy winner even before his first release. Born Che Smith in South Chicago, Rhymefest likes to play up his 'everyman' persona, even if he is a grammy-toting, Louis Vitton-shades-wearing, friend of Kanye West on a Clive Davis imprint... the act still feels real - Blue Collar rings of both the trials and fun of being broke, but the real fun is in much of the pop culture samples that give Danger Mouse a run for it's money.

"Devil's Pie" samples The Strokes' "Someday" in one of the albums highlights, and the combination feels pretty seamless. Rhymefest also reworks Citizen Cope's "Bullet and a Target" in the song "Bullet" and while it may not feel all that original, it still works tremendously well. What doesn't work so well is the 1960's pop nugget "Build Me Up Buttercup" reworking as "Build Me Up" featuring the recently deceased Old Dirty Bastard. It's touching as a tribute to ODB, but feels a bit out of place on this otherwise stellar debut.

Battling Tendonitis, Brion Tiptoes Back Into Performing (Billboard)
Pitchfork gives Blue Collar an 8.0
Rhymefest as Spin's Artist of the Day (July 12th)

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1 comment:

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