Review Summary: “I’m fo’ real ‘bout what I do and even mo’ what I don’t,” said Johnny Polygon. “You’re right,” said Bulldog.
I love my city. Despite erratic weather patterns, lack of professional athletic teams, and yuppie Republicans who frequent Utica Square, Tulsa is just a great city. But unlike other mid-major metropolises, Tulsa lacks a significant hip-hop imprint. As an avid rap fan, and a proud Tulsan, I am – needless to say – disappointed by this fact. So when my schoolmate informed me of a local Tulsa rapper that goes by the name of Johnny Polygon, I dismissed him as a result of a preconceived notion that the man would just be an irrelevant, wannabe chump. Boy, was I wrong. After I discovered he had collaborated with the likes of Nas and Kid Cudi, opened for the likes of De La Soul, and had been signed by DJ Green Lantern, I was determined (if just for 918 love, alone) that I had to give Johnny a fair shot. Boy, was that was a good idea.
While not conventional and possibly off-putting, Johnny’s Afroman like appearance and black trash self-view pays off entirely. Seemingly paying the role of a dark comedian, Polygon’s blunt self-honesty is admirable and humorous. Aside from the inflated arrogance, he – much to my glee – refrains from typical rapper posturing. He doesn’t have a big chain (he shops at the “thrift store,” and apparently drives a van) and he doesn’t sell drugs or shoot people (he’d hustle if he wasn’t scared of guns,) and that’s all great, because he doesn’t try to conceal those facts. In addition, he negatively portrays himself as a drunk, a loser, and a weirdo, among other things, and that only adds to the organic sort of truth rarely exhibited in rap today.
Furthermore, his demeaning, sort of dark wit recalls a contrast between Afroman and Biggie Smalls, mixing shocking seriousness with offensive outlandishness.
“I got a homeboy, he work at Best Buy/And he probably gone work there for the rest his life/I got a homegirl, she work at Walgreen’s/She does chores to keep the floors and walls clean/I got a cousin, and he ain’t doin’ nothin’/He just sits around gettin’ mo’ fat and disgustin’/I got a homeboy, and he’s a drug deala/And I only talk to him ‘cause he’s a drug deala
But perhaps, that’s where the brilliant, interesting qualities end. His lyrics and fun personality easily enough compensate for his just-decent flow and playful delivery, and his simplistic electronica’n’percussion beats, but at what price? At no price. In fact, it’s better that way. Although not technically satisfying, the minimalist instrumentals and normal flow of Polygon are good for keeping the spotlight on him, and the more the attention is deflected upon Johnny, the better.
The album’s only flaws bubble up to the surface when Johnny does his pop singer crooning routine. The Cee-Lo Green-like soulful, muted, harmonious singing (as seen on “The Riot Song”) is great, and quite acceptable. But when he does the mushy stuff, he takes away from himself. He mentions himself that he is undecided as to whether he should be a rapper or a singer, and I suggest that he largely stick to rapping, because the singing isn’t who he is, or who he should be, and it just enlargens his persona when he’s rapping.
All I have to say is, “Tulsa – stand the f*ck up.” I’m happy that I’ve found a competent, fairly relevant, local rapper to represent the 918. I guess we can share, though. Chuckles and reality checks are to be found in Rebel Without Applause
: because satire is the best form of humor.