Open Mike Eagle Unapologetic Art Rap

In the mind of L.A. underground integrant Open Mike Eagle, the term "art rap" might refer to hip-hop that doesn't conform to the quick selling, stereotypical buffoonery he often derides. Listening to his regrettably titled Unapologetic Art Rap disc in its entirety, however, you get the sense that it's more about making hip-hop for people who'd likely be happier listening to a Pavement record (indeed, a voice sounding suspiciously like that of Stephen Malkmus appears on the stripped down "Pissy Transmissions"). Quirky, laid-back, slice-of-life rhymes littered with wide-ranging pop culture references bounce from the absolutely banal to the surprisingly political, like the no day-job dreams of "I Rock" juxtaposed with the corrosive blaxploitation denunciations heard on "Unapologetic." Where this record survives, though, is in the music, with heavy doses of synthesized funk mixing it up with punchy, challenging rhythms and clever electronic touches that combine to carry most of the album's weight and appeal. (Mush)