Monday, March 10, 2008

Project Gampo

Project Gampo
Alamoyard/Beatchefs Productions
(I originally submitted this to RapReviews, but someone beat me to it. Annoying at times, but not bad That said, I'm still kind of pissed that I listened to it for two weeks straight for nothing. It ain't easy being a critic. Plus, the spinal tap reference is really clever).
Nigel Tufnel, guitarist for the faux heavy metal band Spinal Tap, explained in the film “This Is Spinal Tap” that their amps were specially designed to go to eleven. “You see,” he explained, “most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?…Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Eleven. Exactly. One louder.”

Like Spinal Tap, Prof is firmly set at eleven, one louder than your average rapper. Imagine if Ludacris were a white suburban kid from Minnesota, or if Lil Wayne were gakked up on uppers and red bull rather than syrup and weed. Prof takes the Southern art of the one-liner and injects it with a Northerner’s hyperactivity. Granted, neither Luda nor Weezy invented the one-liner or goofy non-sequitur, but they have perfected it, and there is no doubt that Prof owns a copy of “Word of Mouf” and has downloaded at least a few Wayne mixtapes. He even nails the potty humor. On “Run Game” he raps:

“I’m over your head like I was in a hot air balloon
Don’t worry or hurry it will be your time real soon
Buy them tickets, bitches, I’m the meanest
I’m ahead of the game like I was the first pitch
I’m so hot, when I shit in a toilet
(Ploop) It drops and boils it”

Later, as if in answer to Lil Wayne’s “Ima fuck around and barf” line, Prof exclaims “I’ll freestyle vomit in your kitchen sink.” He also throws in cartoony exclamations like “WOW! RADICAL DUDE!” doing a kind of Eminem-meets-Robin Williams. The overall effect is like a double espresso with redbull back: exhilarating and a little overwhelming. Prof can be funny, but he can also start to feel like the guy at the party who talks a little too loud and laughs too much at jokes that aren’t that humorous. There were points were I felt like figuring out ways to get up and leave the room without seeming rude, and when I got to the obnoxious “I Dry Heave” I was ready to leave him lying in his own puke.

Prof’s over-the-top flow is matched by the equally ADD beats of Southern producers the Beatchefs. The beats feature samples from Austin Powers and sixties pop, sped-up soul, and frenetic scratching from DJ Fundamentalist. It’s all ON, all the time, cranked to eleven, and while it’s banging, it gets cacophonous. They do slow it down a notch on tracks like “City of Lakes” which features a freestyle over a human beatbox, and on “Rolling Stone,” a sleek and funky cruising anthem. “Ooh Baby” balances out Prof’s horndog rant of “Jump on my bed/and throw your back out/and break my mattress” with a gloriously slow beat.

Prof takes after Lil Wayne in another important way: he pretty much owns the mic. The boy might be a spazz, but he can rap, and when he’s not busy acting like an ass, he’s pretty damn good. He can also sing, and his does all of his own hooks. On “Down Dirty” he offers up a nice bluesy rap, making an explicit connection between hip hop and the blues. He even offers up a heartfelt tribute to his mother on “Mother,” admitting “I wonder if I can ever work as hard as a woman.” It is one of the more insightful and thoughtful songs a rapper has done about his mom.

He may be irritating, and he may copy some out of other rappers’ playbooks, but Prof brings an impressive amount of energy, humor, and skill to the mic. He’s found the ideal partners in the Beatchefs, and “Project Gampo” is definitely worth the price of admission. Hide your daughters, lock up your liquor, keep an eye on your medicine cabinet, and turn your stereo up to eleven, because Prof is one louder than your favorite rapper.

Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Total Vibes: 7.5 of 10

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