Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reviews:: Noah23 - Rock Paper Scissors

Noah23 can safely count himself amongst the myriad of folks I've meant to cover on the hill, but haven't got to yet for some reason. I'd heard some good things about the conspiracy obsessed Guelph MC, so I was rather pleased when Modulok and the fine folks at Takaba Records sent me his latest release: Paper Rock Scissors.

My first glance at the tracklisting for Rock Paper Scissors had me thinking it was a mixtape: 23 songs strong with some ten to fifteen different producers and guest MC's on pretty much every track are the kind of stats that scream mixtape. But that would be the case if we were dealing with an MC who wasn't fairly obsessed with the connotations surrounding the number 23. But I think it's safe to say we are here, and although I still have reservations about albums this long, I can't argue to much when the artist has a reason other "because I had a lot of songs". I also can't argue too much because there are great songs to be found on this album from top to bottom - the indie-influenced and Jim Guthrie featuring Torn Again is one of the more interesting songs on the album, and it is song number 22. If you're going to have a crap-ton of songs on your album, you'd better reward the listener for getting to the end, and I think Rock Paper Scissors does that.

From the little bit I knew about Noah23, I was expecting an album full of him spitting super-speed, scientifical riddles. While there are moments like this on the album (Crystal Palace, Gaia Bacteria and Dead End Game come to mind), there are also plenty of songs that find Noah in a more playful or thoughful state of mind (Half Drunk, Faded, Toy Story and Fame), and I think that's a big reason why this album works for me. I love the super serious, mind-bending Anticon steez (aprapos of nothing, Sole appears on Tragic Comedy) as much as the next guy, but I also appreciate a chance to see the other side of an MC's personality.

Considering how many folks pitched in to help Noah on this album, there are plenty of personalities to be exposed here. Pinball Machine features pinball sounds and Guelph compatriot Gregory Pepper adding some indie-folkish vocals, to help produce a sound that is a little sunnier than the darker, electro-steez prevalent on the rest of the album. The understated, yet catchy, Half Drunk finds Noah and Mr. C. Weapon making like a Canadian, indie-rap version of Tash & J-Ro, extolling the virtues of firewater. Although it sounds ridiculous, Faded brings to mind (my mind I should say, likely I'm alone here) a kind of a indie-electro version of Stan (without the homo-erotic stalker overtones of course), with Connecticut's Ceschi using a striking female vocal sample as the hook, and Noah in a pensive mood as he recalls a lost relationship. Very nice song.

The wistful Moon Landing not only features Josh Martinez, the finest rappin' Martinez Halifax ever produced, but also feels like a hip hop campfire song. I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I intend it as a compliment, as I enjoy the song. This album was described to me as "electro-rap", and songs like the ominous Things Gets Done, which features the always solid Modulok, and the brief yet frenetic Give It To The People, produced by Giovanni Marks/Subtitle, must be where that description comes from. But more traditional hip hop abounds on the album, like the brooding Tragic Comedy, which features the unlikely supercrew of Epic, Sole, and k-the-i???. Noah increases his Halifax content with Black Ball which features Haltown knob twiddler extraordinaire Fresh Kils on the beat, but also Wordburglar referencing St. Mary's elementary, the destination in my youth for short, white kids who wanted to dunk.

So I'm happy to report that my expectations for Noah23 were easily met by this album, and in fact he likely surpassed them. Not sure how he managed to do it, he clearly has a lot of friends and connects, but he was able to get enough solid beats to power a 23-song album, and keep things interesting throughout. Guelph and the Golden Horseshoe have been coming on as Canada's hottest indie hotbed as of late, and Noah does nothing to dispell that impression with Rock Paper Scissors. I'd say this is a must listen for Canadian indie hip hop enthusiasts, but it's worth a listen no matter where you are on this doomed planet of ours (Noah will enjoy that).

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Posted at 7:45 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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At 12:26 PM, Blogger sankofa did sayeth:

good stuff


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