Kool A.D.
51


3.5
great

Review

by Sam McPherson USER (9 Reviews)
December 31st, 2012 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Kool A.D.'s second solo album/mixtape is a clear improvement from his earlier 'Palm Wine Drinkard,' and manages to strike a surprising balance between self-indulgence and fun, listenable rap.

The point is that it's self-indulgent.

Kool A.D., one-third of the now-disbanded slacker-rock-rap trio Das Racist, seems to thrive on bringing an esoteric edge to his music, pushing it as far into the realm of weird as he can possibly go. One of his early self-released albums, 2010's 'Hyphy Ballads,' saw him rapping over chopped-up Bjork songs. When he remixed Kanye West's "New God Flow," he named the song "Exotische Kunst" -- literally, "exotic art."

Often, it would seem like Kool A.D. (real name Victor Vazquez) was more interested in making statements than he was in actually making music. January 2012's mixtape 'The Palm Wine Drinkard' was a prime example of Vazquez's art school ambitions getting ahead of him actually making good music. The opening, title track featured the entire instrumental of OutKast's "SpottieOttieDopalicious" with some noise thrown on top. Though that mixtape also featured some pretty solid R&B tracks ("A Ganglion of Lightnings," "Girls and Women"), those were overshadowed by just how all over the board Vazquez was -- the mixtape also included a cacophonous instrumental jazz piece, two unnecessary remixes of Das Racist songs, and the bafflingly vocoded dance floor grind "Titties Out." Still, it was hard to fault Vazquez for his ambition, even when it fell far short of its aim.

Thankfully, his second mixtape, April 2012's '51,' sees a more focused Vazquez. Part of this new focus might be from the change in location -- he headed back to the San Francisco Bay area to record this one, employing plenty of little-known local names to tackle production and guest spots. Unsurprisingly (and satisfyingly), the album's production is cohesive, and it doesn't feel like a collection of disparate parts scotch-taped together by Kool A.D.'s weirdness. (Only the Mike Finito-produced "A Different World" feels out of place here -- featuring Das Racist's Heems and New York rapper Meyhem Lauren, it feels like a sudden and impermanent geographic shift.)

Not that there isn't weirdness. The album's third track, "La Pinata," features a sample of Mr. Rogers encouraging you to be "just the way you are" (it works; "La Pinata" is a standout). "Arrested Development" is essentially a reprise Palm Wine Drinkard's "Girls and Women." Retro-sounding samples from video games and whatever-the-hell-else are littered throughout the album. The album's best track, "Al Green," features a slowed-down sample of a riff from the titular artist's "Love and Happiness" that's almost hypnotic. And the album closes with the spiraling, relaxed instrumental "Island High Cypher."

That's not to mention Vazquez's flow here, punchline-only stream-of-consciousness lyrics that can stand up to any of his best work with Das Racist. On "Town Business," he calls himself a "brown Brian Wilson" before turning to declare that "haters is poopy-flavored." "You believe in me? Used to smoke weed and watch CNC and meditate on the G in me," he chuckles on "California Music Channel." On 51's truly great tracks (of which there are a few), the humor blends perfectly with the sunny, retro production.

But '51' has its shortcomings, though -- most in that it could have used some serious editing. He can't help but pitch-down vocals on the dismal "Damien Hirst," while "Power/Refinement Knowledge" is a clattering mess of an instrumental. "Gentry" consists of a two-and-a-half minute sample of a Civil Rights-era interview with activist Huey P. Newton. While Newton's words are, of course, powerful, it's out of place here and feels too much like Vazquez is trying to Make A Statement, a la Kanye West's "Who Will Survive in America?".

But, as with anything Kool A.D. does, it seems, there's going to be self-indulgence. His solo material often follows a "see what sticks" approach, which, despite what doesn't stick, provides a pretty compelling case for labeling Kool A.D. one of rap's resident weird guys. And with 51, a lot of it sticks anyway.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 31st 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is decent, but 22 tracks is way too much. rappers need to get of this bs; it really hurts the consistency of their product.

also, your review is fine, but you give tons of background and description only to follow up with a 2 sentence paragraph on shortcomings that seems really rushed. it seems like you kind of decided meh this review is too long i quit.

also, i wouldn't say they are "rock-rap" at all

McPherson
December 31st 2012


13 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Their words. "Our new thing, slacker-rock-rap." From either "Middle of the Cake" "Brand New Dance" I think. They meant it as a joke, and that's what I was referencing.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 31st 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ah ok

demigod!
January 1st 2013


44381 Comments


"this is decent, but 22 tracks is way too much. rappers need to get of this bs; it really hurts the consistency of their product."

this, i cant listen to most mixtapes because they go on for so damn long

not sure if im gonna check this out right away.i like Kool AD but Palm Wine left a lot to be desired and what I've heard from this wasn't that great. I just want a new Das Racist album :[

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Spluger
January 3rd 2013


1144 Comments


Yeah, I've always found shifting through mixtapes for the gems to be kind of a pain in the ass, and then half the time when the artist finally comes out with an album it's full of sub par bs.

FourthReich
January 14th 2013


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

no way someone reviewed this fuck yeah pos'd! "you gotta admit though that's hella bay move to new york 'cause sometimes you gotta get away". so many quotable lines on here.

oltnabrick
June 27th 2013


30799 Comments


Main Attrakionz features are cool

Digging: Monte / Magnétophonique - Split

FourthReich
December 1st 2013


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

couple blocks from the sundial candlestick park south one mile

Oooh is one of the best things main attrak have done

FourthReich
January 10th 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WHEN THUGS CRY

Phlegm
January 10th 2014


4627 Comments


the question remains



is Kool A.D. the best rapper in the world?

Digging: Croatian Amor - Genitalia Garden

FourthReich
January 10th 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

it was never a question dog

Phlegm
January 10th 2014


4627 Comments


Official Hip Hop Artist battle. Kool A.D. vs. Himanshu

1. Heems - Nehru Jackets
2. Kool A.D. - Not O.K.

Show/Add Comments (1)

hey guys discuss



FourthReich
January 20th 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic exotic

bach
January 26th 2014


12596 Comments


HEY SOMEBODY OUT THERE ON TIWTTER GO CHANGE MY WIKIPEDIA PICTURE IT LOOKS STUPID AND IONOHOW 2 CHANGE IT

Digging: Tim Hecker - Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again

Phlegm
January 26th 2014


4627 Comments


SOMEBODY SEND THE JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM 80K SO THEY CAN GO TO OLYMPICS THIS YEAR

bach
January 26th 2014


12596 Comments


http://instagram.com/p/jpxRDzLHW_/#

Phlegm
January 26th 2014


4627 Comments


kool a.d. aka best rapper in the world aka vincent van gogh

oltnabrick
January 26th 2014


30799 Comments


Reported for lying

bach
January 26th 2014


12596 Comments


I'm an idiottttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

WASSUP

FourthDyke
July 18th 2014


365 Comments


couple blocks from the sundial candlestick park south one mile alameda walnut st. anthony's tree canopy kool a.d.



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