Bluebird Cannonball!!!

About a decade ago, the hip-hop underground was being challenged by an artsy rap collective called Anticon that inspired and opened doors for other experimental hip-hop artists. Orlando, FL rapper Bleubird came up during this period, building a name for himself as a rapid-fire MC with a message worth imparting and a witty way with words with which to spread it. Graduating from long-time label Endemik, Cannonball!!! is his first effort with Fake Four, the spiritual successor to Anticon. Here, he's still rapping fast over creative, up-tempo production ("Down Like Brothers"), but he's also experimenting with flows and sounds, attempting to tell stories that resonate universally. Cannonball!!! opens with the minimalist "Fog Rollin," which evolves through spoken word, singing and rap, with the album ending with folksy indie rock/hip-hop hybrid "Rubberband," but there's just as much variety invested in-between. "Giehe 1977" is a beautiful ballad about Bleubird's relationship with his grandfather, which he follows with "Black Sandcastles," a club track that flips between Miami bass and an Irish drinking song. "Christian Wife" is a bluesy folk number with sing-along lyrics and strictly acoustic guitar accompaniment, while first single "Pimp Hand" is a slick blaxploitation soundtrack, the singing and love song lyrics adding to its appeal. While not your typical hip-hop album, fans open to experimentation with different genres will find Cannonball!!! a rewarding, if eclectic, half-hour-plus of music. (Fake Four Inc.)