A Land of a Thousand Rappers Vol. 1: Fall of the Pillars
Future Rapper is the name of the artist from the artist formerly/ currently known as Slo-Ro, a.k.a. Michael Kauffman. I was introduced to the weird wild world of Slo-Ro via his collaboration with Glen Galaxy in Soul-Junk (the only Intelligent-Christian-Rock, Noise, Spazz, Free Jazz, Skronk, Rap Band). Slo-Ro has left the band of his former Sunday school teacher to explore the weird wide sound-scapes of his own design. While Glen explores things of an explicitly biblical nature, Michael still investigates the nature of right and wrong but his subject matter is more worldly and in the present tense, if not the future one.
Slo-Ro takes his aim at the "bling" culture of most of today's mainstream rappers who willingly whore themselves out to their corporate slave masters all the while declaring themselves to be pimps. (I do not care for the White Stripes really, but one line by them seems to be particularly apt in regards to main stream rappers, "You can not be a pimp and prostitute too.") The state of current Hip-Hop is a cluster fuck of fake hard core street thugs who turn tricks for the subsidiaries of the military industrial complex (see the diagram that God Speed You Black Emperor did connecting all the major media companies to all the major defense contractors). The corporate masters really tipped their hand when 50 Cent came out in support of the over-privileged, cokehead, dry (?) drunk, fake Christian, George W. Bush. Fiddy tried to claim that Bush was the "Ultimate Gangsta." Bush might be good at shoving coke up his nose but being a successful street thug takes something that Bush does not have, common sense. To last on the street, you must know how to choose your battles and know who not to fucking piss off.
It is sad that once a music created by and for the disaffected has been co-opted by multi-national and right-wing "Christian" broadcasting companies (aka Clear Channel). The vile people who push unattainable materialism on the masses also exploit people's genuine faith for evil means, i.e. supporting the Republican Party. Who knew that the savior of hip hop would be a white Christian kid (Ok, kid might be stretching, he is about my age) from the suburbs, but that is exactly what Slo-Ro is. He returns the joy and fun of the original rappers of the outer Boroughs of New York City. Slo-Ro, like the original rappers, has no problem getting down while indicting the system.
The album opens with "Past the Ice & More," which features the deceptively pastoral strains of an orchestra and a loop of a choir, before shifting to the dub of "Future Past Perfect". We are also introduced to the Holy Fool aka Wayne S. Feldman. The song ends with what sounds like oceans waves fed through a plate reverb. The most comical character on the album is Warhol Bucks who is introduced on "14Karrot Butcher Knife." His part is played most excellently by Michael Kauffman. Warhol Bucks is a parody of not only all the fake bling-ing rappers, but also the pathetically empty consumer culture at large. Warhol Bucks want you to know that his cape is "Oh So Long and Velvet-y," and he has an "All you can eat pasta bar in the trunk." I am confused at the reference to the outlet mall at King of Prussia (Delaware Valley, Represent!). As far as I know there are no outlets at the King of Prussia Mall. But I have not been there in 15 yearsdespite living 20 miles away. Maybe Slo-Ro knows something I do not.
Neil Young should listen to "Factor IX for the Headwound" before he runs his mouth about the current generation's inability to write a decent protest song (I do love the album Living With War). Slo-Ro cuts deep into the tender underbelly of the Bush Administrations faux patriotism: "You hide dead, your sick and your poor, watch your TV dinners while you eat your wars. It ain't about the bling you bring, because death still has its final sting." The willing participation of the mainstream media in self-censorship of the horrors of war is all the more disheartening when you realize that companies like NBC's parent company GE make mountains of profit off of the terror that Bush reigns upon the world.
On first listens the album seems like a Dadaist collage of disjointed words and images. As one listens more and more, the album reveals itself as a masterpiece of cultural criticism. No other album so perfectly captures the complete barrenness of the current consumer culture. One can go buy a fake Louis Vuitton bag, drive one's big-ass Japanese SUV with one's big American Flag decal and yellow ribbon magnet to the Wal-Mart to buy lead laden Chinese slave labor manufactured toys to bring back to ones sub-primed mortgaged home. All the excess of capitalism will not make one fulfilled. (Asthmatic Kitty) (Dan Cohoon)