Bizzart Bloodshot Mama

[Sounds Are Active; 2006]

Styles: underground hip-hop, noise-hop
Others: cLOUDDEAD, Soul-Junk, Food For Animals

Socially conscious hip-hop is dead. What hasn’t become a cartoon of self-congratulation is now a shell of its once very relevant position in rap music. With the only other option being shiny and slick, underground hip-hop has decidedly gone inward with poor results: indie-friendly rappers like Sage Francis and Atmosphere circling in sties of self-deprecation. It’s this fucking bleak state of hip-hop that’s personally caused me to ignore the genre as a whole.

I first took notice of Bizzart via his guest spot on Soul-Junk’s avant-garde hip-hop masterwork 1958, in which the former spoken-word poet delivered the most accessible performance of the so-weird-it’s-probably-genius album. So it came as a surprise that his proper full-length debut, Ear Drung, rode so heavily on Soul-Junk’s avant coattails. That’s not to say it wasn’t an impressive outing, just that Glen Galaxy and Slo-Ro’s prints (both inspirationally and literally as producers/beat-makers) were all over it. Still, Bizzart’s potential was abundantly clear making expectations, in my opinion, high.

With Bloodshot Mama, you can tell Bizzart chewed his lyrics, grit, blood, and all. He struggles with a world failing around him, a product of abuse and self-destruction: “Such as we are such is death/ Such as we are sword to sword/ Such as we are famine to famine/ Such as we are consumed by this world.” “Liquid Beast,” the album’s centerpiece and Bizzart’s most personal statement, shouts this like a desperate mantra over a long sweep of strings and brass and a nervously urgent beat. He’s more or less abandoned emulating Glenn Galaxy’s fractured delivery for one that’s straightforward, but rhythmically attuned with kinetic turmoil.

Appropriately enough, Bizzart’s marked progression of vocal style echoes his new songwriting and beat structure (noticeably without a Soul-Junker on board). Only on “Drifter” is the beat left wanting, if mainly for a repetitive sample and a lethargic guest vocal from the usually captivating AWOL One. Otherwise, Bizzart employs a host of carefully placed and sampled strings, bloated beats, and electronic dissonance through his custom built circuit-bent machinery. Unlike the upcoming crop of noise-based hip-hop groups, Bizzart knows restraint. The abstracted scuzz always has purpose and never overtakes the song when unnecessary.

Folkie Justin Vollmar sings a curious tale to open “Dreams of Sparrows” that reveals more than even your most heart-on-your-sleeve weepy singer would care to admit. The gist (presented more convincingly than this paraphrase): a salesman convinces an older gentleman to buy a dead dove on the promise that the bird will never leave him. It’s an absurd and ironic loyalty, but a stable one with pangs of resignation, perhaps one Bizzart feels to a dead and decaying world around him.

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