I’m rather late getting around to posting on More Or Les’ latest record, Mastication, but I have to say, if people really wanted to listen to hip hop they can relate to, as so many people often claim, this would already be in the favourites pile of every cool kid you know. Why? Well, as suggested by it’s title (“Mastication or chewing is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth” – I had to look it up too), this record is pretty much entirely about food, and I think it’s safe to say that food (all aspects of it) has been an almost all-encompassing obsession in western culture over the last 5-10 years.
In the hands of another MC, a concept album about food might not be on the everyday listening menu, but as I tried to explain the last time I was was overdue in giving Les his, uhhhh, due, he’s a uniquely charismatic MC with a knack for making songs about everyday subjects more engaging than you think they should be.
It’s no different on Mastication, and whether he’s bouncily extolling the virtues of brunch (again) over a soulful track, breaking down his love-hate relationship with coffee over a beat-box-built-backbeat, or double-time dissing folks for spending money they don’t have on fancy food and clothes, as he does on back-to-back-to-back tracks (Brunch Again, Coffee, Filet Mignon), he managed to keep my attention throughout. Throw in the fact that he had me engrossed by a song that is pretty much just him rapping his Chili recipe (the aptly named Chili) and I think it’s safe to say Les succeeds where others would fail.
One might expect the production to take a back seat when you’re talking about an album with such a specific focus, but that isn’t the case here. Les handles a great deal of it himself (along with occasion assistance from folks like Abstract Artform, Peter Project and Fresh Kils), and it’s consistently good throughout, even though the songs utilize a wide variety of styles. Les also chooses his few guests wisely, with old Backburner reliables like Timbuktu, Chokeules, Wordburglar, as well as a couple vocal turns from the mistress of the kalimba, Laura Barrett, and an amazing feature from the legendary Chip-Fu on Top Chefs.
I was originally going to close this off with some kind of clever, food-related hilariousness, but I’ll save us both a cringe and just suggest once again that you go snatch this record up. Go ahead, try it, you’ll like it! Oh, well I tried. Cringe away.