Sole Selling Live Water

[Anticon; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental hip hop, underground hip hop
Others: Pedestrian, Sage Francis, Passage, Buck 65, Shapeshifters

I was preparing myself to have my first listen to Sole's Selling Live Water after a really tough day at work. In the past year, I have enjoyed listening to Sole's previous effort, Bottle of Humans to relieve any tension the day had brought to my head. My day was bad, but Sole always had the ability to make me appreciate that my life was not that bad, compared to him. His continuous sadness and anger would fuel me to go forth and face the next day.

Selling Live Water continues in the same fashion. Sole seems to be even more angry and unhappy with each passing track on the album. His opening track “Da Baddest Poet” clearly shows us his inner most feelings towards himself with such lyrics “The white man is the f**king devil” and “I only rap ‘cause I ain’t smart enough to write a book”.  So why is Sole's soul so sad?  Because it makes him stronger and stronger.

Sole spits lyrics at you like a fully loaded automatic weapon. It is continuous throughout the entire album. Lyrics after lyrics without much of a breath taken between social commentary about war, “hip-hop Nazis,” and fast food. This forward assault can get so dizzying after awhile that you can get disoriented very quickly and reach for your nearest bottle of pain reliever. This is the only downfall of the album because accompanied with the continuous onslaught of lyrics is a stunning soundtrack of rich instrumentation that may be the best musical achievement on the Anticon label. Unfortunately, most of it is masked behind Soles’ restless delivery. “Plutonium” is the first song that Sole lets the beat go on to make way to a piano loop and synthesized organs while the drum and bass clobbers at an elevated pace. This is the first sign of perfect harmony between beat-maker and rhyme performer. This harmony can be observed infrequently for the remainder of the album, which doesn’t mean that the album is not good, it just seems that everyone on this project is going in opposite directions.

The absolute generous quantity of lyrical energy is what Sole does best. This record proves that Sole has something to say and every individual in the world should get to hear it. But there is an underlying power struggle between Soles’ lyricism and the beat production. The beats should be heard, due to the fact that they are the glue of the album. Unfortunately, they are buried too deep to be a focal point of the album. If you are just starting to listen to Sole or any Anticon record, pick up Bottle of Humans by Sole first. That way, you won’t bite off more that you can chew.  But if you want to go on a thrill ride of your life, by all means, pick up this album, but don’t be surprised if you end up with a little pain between your temples. As for my headache from my rough day at work, I am subscribing two pain relievers and Selling Live Water, instrumental version.

1. Da Baddest Poet
2. Shoot the Messenger
3. Salt on Everything
4. I Hope You Like My Stupid Painting
5. Respect Part 3
6. Tokyo
7. Plutonium
8. Sebago
9. Slow, Cold, Drops
10. Pawn in the Game Part 1
11. Pawn in the Game Part 2
12. The Priziest Horse
13. Teepee on the Highway Blues
14. Selling Live Water
15. Ode to the War on Terrorism