Review Summary: Tab & Anitek blend flawlessly, cultivating a shrewd balance for the best underground Hip-Hop album of the year, and one of the best concept albums of the century.
In music, the term “concept album” often tends to inflate the expectations held for an album, and when the album delivers on those expectations, it’s typically heralded as a paragon of the genre. Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien were both inducted into Hip-Hop relevance by means of their successful and smart albums: Dr. Octagonecologyst
and Deltron 3030
, respectfully. Armed only with a slew of simple beats, an idea, and a tongue as sharp as his proverbial member, Ultramagnetic MC Kool Keith forged his (other) identity and first masterpiece in 1996. Indeed, Dr. Octagonecologyst
paved the way for underground MC Tab, with the help of Jersey Trip-Hop producer Anitek, to write the most recent entry into the diary of conceptual Hip-Hop, but Tab’s brainchild flows even deeper than any vagina Dr. Octagon may have penetrated.
The concept is loosely constructed around a metaphor comparing Tab’s past to a rabbit hole. In that a rabbit hole can be a vast and winding network, Chasing Rabbits
chronicles Tab’s spiral further and further into a desolate and unrelenting oblivion. Lyrics about smoking weed “until [Tab] couldn’t breathe” and “[shaking] hands with the devil” are only two of many examples of Tab’s journey down the hole.
Lyrically, Tab is much like Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, in that he’ll rarely pull out an overly witty one-liner. Instead, Tab’s prowess lies within a consistent output of solid verses atop Anitek’s strong and varied production. His delivery is seldom relaxed; lines are often layered atop one another with emphasis on the first syllable, evoking a sense of back-and-forth dueling, expounding Tab’s struggle against the life that the album presents. His lone verse on “Charades” exemplifies his flow well, and when thrown over the enticing and intertwining acoustic guitar lines, sets the perfect mood for the best song on the album.
Employing a copious repertoire of instruments, consisting of acoustic guitar, drums, and keys, Anitek’s resplendent production accompanies Tab’s murky lyricism and consummate flow with a form-mirroring suitability. Quick drums complement Tab’s aggressive “Ballad of the Man that Never Made It” on one of the faster songs on the album, while the placid piano loop of “Manipulated Living” shadows Tab’s bleak verses and the discourse between Donnie and Gretchen (of Donnie Darko
) to further elucidate the metaphor central to the album.
delivers quality at every turn; Tab’s rapping style is unique and Anitek’s immaculate production carries the album. Even the guest spots on the album are good; Shade delivers one of the best verses of the entire Chasing Rabbits
on “Charades”, and although Tone Liv supplies a lackluster verse (that is in no way related to the theme of the album) on “Elmer Fudd Theory”, Anitek’s fantastic production saves the song. The duo blend flawlessly, cultivating a shrewd balance for the best underground Hip-Hop album of the year, and one of the best concept albums of the century.