Busy, busy, busy. Feel like a lot of records are coming in and out of my life. Plenty that are worth at least a few lines if not an A Minus. Still feel like my count is way down from last year, but what can you do? Anyway, I’ve had a bit of good news come recently; a story of mine will be published in the upcoming issue of The Istanbul Review. So while I continue my foundering quest to keep up with what’s new, here’s some old stuff that’s been hanging around too long.
KOOL A.D. – NOT O.K. (free download ’13): My favorite of the ex-Das Racist emcee’s slew of mixtapes, a cavalcade of sobered trip hop tracks packed with clever curiosities, and, perhaps most importantly, the shortest effort to boot. What a coincidence! And you can trim a few minutes by deleting the three non-instrumentals Kool A.D. produced himself, though that won’t save you from the bizarre acid trip appearing mid-“Psychotropic.” With a panoply of guest producers and cameos by everyone from Del to, well, a bunch of people I’ve never heard of, Vasquez has never sounded better or closer to the rap trio that launched his career. Finally sounds like he’s got sounds up his sleeve to back the words he spews. A MINUS
KOOL A.D. – Word O.K. (free download): His latest mixtape’s inverted color scheme of 2013’s Not OK makes me think it’s some sort of sequel, though the music couldn’t be more different. Relying instead on old skool soul samples high on horn flairs mixed with ratatat snare drum club clips, Vasquez hits home runs with the two longest songs, “Life & Time” and “Special Forces,” the first featuring a wonderfully cheesy key change and the second banging club booty. And while the first half keeps its head above water with beats a bit more flaccid than the better cousins of this album’s sibling, it’s the second half that lifts it barely enough to be worth the few bucks he’d prefer you dropped him. A MINUS