The Mighty Rhino He Whom The Beat Sets Free Is Free Indeed

A consistent highlight of Toronto's Hip-Hop Karaoke stage, the Mighty Rhino debuts with an album of originals that alternates between raw hardcore raps, introspective emo songs and proclamations of the positive proclivities of dancing, all over a variety of beats incorporating a mix of disco, funk, soul and rock. But it's on "It's Necessary," his guitar-rocking funk jam with Toronto rap legend Thrust, that Rhino sums up his mission statement best: "I just like it when motherfuckers spit with joy." Even when the lyrics are angry battle raps there's no disguising that Rhino is a nice, honest, spiritual individual having fun expressing himself. While his revelation on "It's Necessary" ("pimp limp 'cause I got me cerebral palsy") makes it easier to excuse the few instances of sloppy delivery, maybe it shouldn't. But it helps that he proves himself more than capable of ripping Southern-style double-time raps on "Whaddup Witcha," with More Or Les and Rittz, as well as singing surprisingly soulful hooks on "Slow Rollin'," "Act A Dog" and "Company Policy," and without Auto-Tune at that! "Company Policy," a soul-baring love song to an ex-girlfriend, is the sure winner, destined to be a hit, if any justice exists, but "Strivers Dictionary" also stands out as a touching song written for, and dedicated to, his nieces, and "Out My Mind Now" and "Everybody Get Up!" inject anthem-like energy into the proceedings. Plus, "Putcha Ankles In It" is a funky dance song that also deserves attention due to producer Remot's brilliant use of James Brown samples. Sure, there's some filler, but the only misstep is "Tryna Make A Life Out Here," an honest, biographical, spoken word piece that doesn't suit the experimental, epic and unfortunately drum-less instrumental. Still, this is a great debut by a dude that continually defies expectations. (Independent)