Rhymefest’s debut album, Blue Collar, was an impressive introduction to the sound of the Chi-town wordsmith. After overcoming label politics and several false starts, Fest finally returns with his eternally delayed second go-round, El Che. Was it worth the wait? Let’s investigate.
Jaap: As someone who thinks Blue Collar was seriously underappreciated I was looking forward to his follow-up for a long, long time. Matter of fact, El Che was in danger of becoming the indie rap version of “Detox,” but now that it’s finally arrived it doesn’t come close to it’s predecessor. There are some good tracks – Give It To Me for instance – or the two Che Guevara-inspired acapella parts, but most of the material seems oddly out of key with the “Viva La Revolucion” vibe of the title and artwork. Admittedly, the album as I heard it was as yet unsequenced and sequencing can do a lot for an album. It cannot, however, save you from rhymes like “I’m like a crockpot, baby, I cook long/this coldcut, your salami on my footlong”. Maybe Fest lost track of the album concept he set out years ago or just created to many different tracks over the time but this album sounds more like a mixtape than an album and lacks the focus and impact of, ironically, his mixtapes.
Rizoh: One of the most bizarre sophomore rap albums in years. Fest’s debut was brilliant. His second will cause you to feel something weird and it’s not admiration. Slowly unraveling revolutionary tales stretch across intense soundscapes but novelty takes a backseat to execution. Really, Fest, you don’t need to record every single idea you conceive.
Andrew: Yes, I like Rhymefest. Yes, I’ve seen him jump on a mic and punish it. Yes, I’ve seen him put together well thought out mixtapes, “A Star Is Born Vol. 1,” “Man In The Mirror.” And finally, yes I enjoy his style of craft as much as I do parallel syntax but he was off point with this one. Lyrical content found no home to settle into under the beat’s roof and wandered a little more than I would have liked. Chalk it up to too much time on Rhymefest’s hands.
[Consider this a collector’s edition of the Brain Trust sessions. This is our final BT feature. It had a great run but we’re ready to retire it. – Rizoh]