man’sbestfriend The New Human Is Illegal

[Morr Music; 2004]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: experimental rap, underground hiphop, glitch-hop
Others: sole, cLOUDDEAD, Themselves, entire Morr and Anticon rosters

A couple years ago, my friends and I went to see a sole performance. This wasn't the first time we were seeing sole live, so we knew what to expect. sole didn't let us down as he gave his patented all-out, red-faced, arm-flailing performance. At the conclusion of the show, we headed over to the merch table to scoop up the latest tour-only releases. I saw the first man'sbestfriend EP propped up there, and gladly threw down my eight dollars for the purchase. We exited the venue, took the subway back to where our car was parked, and immediately put the disc into the stereo to enjoy sole's most recent triumph. Within a matter of seconds, we were staring at each other with disturbed faces. We kept silent as we drove down Route 3, each of us trying to convince ourselves what we were hearing was good. By the time track three started up, we'd had enough. My friend, who was sitting shotgun, hit the "eject" button and frisbee-ed the burnt disc out the window at 67 miles per hour.

What bothered us the most was sole's decision to produce this little side project by himself. As a member and the mastermind of Anticon, sole has some of the best producers in the game at his disposal. Why he would choose to use his own amateur experiments to rant on was beyond us. Okay, that may be a bit harsh and un-journalistic of me, but we felt cheated by one of our favorite artists. We couldn't even hear his lyrics through the barrage of incoherent noise and lack of melody. Turns out many fans enjoyed man'sbestfriend, and sole made a follow-up, No Thanks, which was a limited release as well. The New Human Is Illegal is a revamped version of that, with a few extra cuts. The kind lads over at Morr decided to release the project. To my dismay, the professionalism the project has now seen has not changed my opinion of it.

Like I previously said, the most grating aspect to this project is the production. Anticon producers have an incredible knack for creating a mood with their beats. That irreplaceable talent is vacant here. Sure it's nice that sole wants to venture into the production field, but perhaps he could have been more precautionary with his eagerness. With the exception of "Poor Is Cool," sole's production sounds like a dense collection of buzzes, grating drones, and grinding metal.

Despite the musical fallouts of the album, sole's lyrics are, as always, quite clever and heartfelt. The only problem is, you can't hear half the damn words because of the musical chaos. One has to sit with full attention to understand the whole of what sole is saying. If you can decipher at least a small portion of his sentiments, you realize that there's a grand album brewing underneath the madness. sole has always had an affinity towards politics and world affairs, and this album is the culmination of his opinions on such matters. Never one to stay silent, he rants on almost every social injustice you could think of, applying the sardonically twisted viewpoints he has become revered for.

With a veteran production team, The New Human Is Illegal would qualify as an exceptional sole album. Unfortunately, sole's main inclination for the man'sbestfriend series probably lies in a conscious effort to do everything by himself. You can't knock the guy for doing something different from his usual approach, but you can knock him if it comes out bad.

1. Class Action Suit Against Earth
2. Idol Victim
3. How To Be Rich And Powerful
4. Ode To Clean Air
5. Little Bank Anthem
6. No Thanks
7. The Devil's A Travelling Man
8. Numb
9. Dream About Afghanistan Or Oakland
10. Form Plus Prime Matter Equals Substance
11. Be Happy
12. Attack Russia
13. Poor Is Cool
14. Dream I Had On 25th Birthday
15. Great Open Grey
16. If You Don't Like My Music