Album: Busdriver, Jhelli Beam (Anti)

"Be real," says Busdriver at the start of 'Jhelli Beam', "conscious rap failed us."

Maybe so, but if Busdriver has any alternative to offer, it's virtually impossible to tell what it is, as the over-caffeinated rap style that was effective on albums like 2004's 'Cosmic Cleavage' has now spiralled off into its own universe, his garbled faux-operatic flow delivered at such a pace that any linguistic dexterity is lost. Even after copious backtracking, it's impossible to make out more than the occasional phrase of tracks like "Quebec and Back" ("Plead for what you can't believe and career suicide poolside by the candyland ear"?) and "World Agape" ("Drop orange rind at the war crimes so that the crowd are divided well all my in-laws and Limbaughs do the power ballad they're shouting...", etc), and even then one winds up none the wiser. Still, at least he has the courtesy to blurt, "Art rap! Art rap!" at the start of the latter, a warning that could be extended to the album as a whole. With vocal treatments further muddying legibility, Busdriver has abandoned the pretence that enjoyment has anything to do with his art, which is a drawback for entertainment, and fatal for a form also notionally fulfilling a journalistic function.

Download this: 'Least Favorite Rapper', 'Unsafe Sextet/Gilded Hearts of Booklovers'