Review Summary: Both current annoying trends and interesting experiments appear on this dark, dirty, intermittently compelling hip-hop album.
The first description that Cracker
lends itself, and what's really the only certain thing about the album, is that it's an interesting little experiment in alternative, albeit trend-chasing, hip-hop. It may not appear "little," carrying twenty songs with nothing labeled as an "intro" or an "interlude," but most of the songs are barely over two minutes, and there's only one over four. I guess it vaguely resembles J Dilla's Donuts
in that way, and in the way the tracks flow into each other as well. But it's a different version. If Donuts
is the pristine and refined adult, Cracker
is the smug, turnt-up teenager, with a little less substance and a lot less subtlety.
But make no mistake, this is not the kind of hippity-hop that you blast at parties. This is the kind of hippty-hop to rip the bong to while alone in the basement, feeling lonely and nihilistic, as teenagers often do. The songs on Cracker
are dark, cynical streams of feeling, led by deep swells of brooding synths and eerie, actually quite well executed guitar lines. The production is sure to at least mildly impress most listeners with its dense, crackly textures and sounds that move from one ear to the other like hovering ghosts. The album would definitely be just as, if not more entertaining as a purely instrumental piece, but alas, Bones felt that he had something to say. Sometimes he does, but most of the time, not really.
His voice and demeanor are subdued enough to match their dark, hazy backdrops, but he's still thuggish enough to be just a bit irritating. He refers to himself as a "legend" on several occasions, inexplicably brags about his switchblade and how much blood it's wearing on several more, and generally just makes himself sound like a twisted, antisocial loner you probably wouldn't want to smoke a bowl with. The guest appearances are whatever. Actually, more than a few songs feature a guest screaming the hook in the background, and it does add something to the atmosphere, but it's also a little grating. Whenever Bones does seem to be onto something lyrically, he either trails back into the bragging-about-blunts schtick or he totally contradicts himself. He calls himself a legend, yes, but he also calls himself "worthless," once in the song of the same name. Despite the power of the album's slightly trappy, yet eerily alluring beats, Bones ends every song when he's done rapping, or singing, (which he also does quite often, despite how amateurish and unrefined he sounds), and that makes the album feel a little bit empty when it's over.
is different, though not that challenging. The sounds of the journey will probably take you somewhere, despite the bluntness, smugness, and lack of substance in the words. It's an album that likes itself too much, especially for being as dirty and twisted as it is. An album like this should acknowledge its ugliness at some point, to make it more real. Instead, Cracker
is constantly trying to transcend itself, but it's just not mature enough to get there.