Review Summary: The commanding lyricist finds a dynamic arrangement to finally demand your attention.
Sole has always been a back ally genre-mutt of a rapper and this was seen back on his solo albums and his electronically experimental 'mantsbestfriend' alias. But contrary to the most popular hip-hoppers today who spit out rhymes about popping champagne or the medallions they have anchored 'round their throats, Sole (birth name Tim Holland) chooses to stick to the more indiscriminate topics. He dwells in the books he reads, the branding of music critics, society's desperate dependency on technology, or how he's a white man wanting to be black. Whatever the case may be, he treats the topic with the utmost respect and is consistently able to shoot out a few dozen lines designated to said topic with top-notch fluency and social awareness.
That's what we see on Plastique
: a hailstorm of brilliant lines backed by rhythmically resourceful beats that borrow from a vast cluster of genres. The stomping "Bait", for instance musically stands alongside trip-hop icon Massive Attack
where the track applies a muffled and hazy backdrop in an attempt to emphasize Sole's tongue-in-cheek lyrics. You'll get probably the most discernible verses of lyrics in "Children of the Privilege" whose approach turns more glitch oriented after generating a hung-in-the-air atmosphere and creates a forewarning introduction to an album that will soon turn into a gallery; Sole's every random thought connected by webbings of the Skyrider Band's intangible grooves. He starts by sarcastically knocking on society's reliability on technology, "Who am I" Lost my GPS... / Only my phone can find me / Only Pitchfork can judge me...
" You can practically picture Mr. Holland escaping from civilization's strong hold to join Chris McCandless in the solitary wild.
"Nothing Pt. 2" undertakes the seemingly lost hip-hop notion of every-man-for-himself survival in poverty and drugs: "Nothing's gonna peel the paint / Nothing's gonna save your health / This song's about nothing, 'cause nothing's gonna love you back / And nothing's gonna pay your rent". This isn't Holland speaking from the deserted halls of his past or an old Biggie song; Plastique came about after his 2 year exclusion from the technical world in the woods of Arizona. His struggles are more likely summed up in the lyrically entertaining as well as musically dynamic "Longshots" where he regrets, "I started diggin' my grave at age 15 / My work won't be done until the head shiner / I'm diggin' ditches from here to Barcelona...
" and the drums eventually pound into a rocking beat before giving up to a mellow outro. The excellence continues in the foot-stomper, "Battlefields" (which features Markus Arher from The Notwist
). The track paints itself in the colors of both the current state and aftermath of war, lurking slowly like a fallen warrior that's later killed off and mourned by an acoustic guitar.
, while running short into 9 tracks, is an emphatic entity that will surround your head rhythmically and lyrically. Enhancing their debut with a more assembled command and overall spirit, this is an album that can build monuments of icons not yet seen by the popular hip-hop artists of today. Even while his mission from day one was to use the art of rapping for personal and social relevance, Sole has finally landed a blow strong enough for the majority of us to pay attention. The only downfall his latest release holds will be it's short duration time for such a substantial idea and such consistent potency in its fabrication.
Especially Recommended Tracks:
Nothing Pt. 2