Crunk 23 Illegal Ideas, Inc.

Now that it's 2012, prolific Guelph, ON rapper Noah 23 has officially retired from music, if the rumours are true. Illegal Ideas, Inc., the third official collaboration between Noah 23 and producer Crunk Chris, is one of the last of Noah's albums, released near the end of what has proven to be his busiest year for dropping new music. As their last release together, III is likely to remain the most widely accessible of their collaborations. Noah 23 continues to rap about mind expansion, drug use, conspiracy theories, sci-fi subject matter and metaphysical mysticism, sometimes using his slower, simpler flow, which is easier for most to digest, while at other times dropping double-time raps. As usual, some songs sound like they could be freestyles, although Noah does excel at rapping off the top. His choruses could use some work though, especially his re-use of a witty line from a previous song for the hook of "Cyberpunk Crunkology." Chris's self-coined "Canadian Crunk," an amalgamation of industrial hip-hop and elastic-y electronica, can still be found on III, with songs like "Thought Crime," "Stealthy" and "Rezist the Chip," but you'll also find a greater selection of smooth, mellow songs able to attract the average rap fan, albeit one open to raps about techno-shamans and occult thrills. The production on "Carpe Diem," "Flower Town" and "Drinkin' in the Yard" lend a positive, summertime vibe that shines through the dark cloud that is much of the rest of this album, a direction possibly inspired by Noah's recent pop-oriented works like Rock, Paper, Scissors and Fly Cook on Venus, which may also have inspired Noah to bring some singing into the mix with "Don't Force It" and "Drinkin' in the Yard." Illegal Ideas, Inc. expands upon the sound of Crunk 23's previous collaborations with some great results, but unfortunately, we'll never know where it could have gone from here. (Legendary)