January 25, 2012

Tosten Burks #*&^ @*&+ing *#^~ mother ~#*% #^$* >&=*

It takes time to get past the gimmicks of Queens rapper T.Shirt. The name might mock typical rapper-name nonsense, but that doesn’t make it any less dumb. Dubbing a video like this an “essay” doesn’t make it not blatant blog-bait provocativeness. Underneath the antics though, there is substance. (And substance abuse.)

Shirt’s latest mixtape, “The Fuck,” further develops a character that isn’t as much pure New York hip-hop as it is pure New York. This is dark-alley anger rap, shamelessly abrasive, stumbling out of a dive bar. Lyrics that sound best shouted off a cheap, rundown rooftop.

It works because T.Shirt is an anti-hero you can sympathize with. Not that he demands sympathy. The antagonism is all too real. “Fuck you if you don’t like the curses/I curse ‘cus I’m cursed/And this life is the mother fucking worst” reveals a pretty rude persecution complex, but “If it wasn’t for my Grandma, we wouldn’t know what was Christmas” provides some pretty real rationale.

It’s the voice that ties it all together though. The relentlessly fuming expletive stew that is “Old Man Angst” would be repetitive and boring if not for T.Shirt’s roaring snarl. The flaming, spitting, end-of-the-line antipathy that strains and frays his voice conveys more emotion than any of the song’s four-letter words.

Sonically, the tape misses when Shirt goes for post-ASAP spaciness as on “Moonshine” or “Secret Paris of the 30’s.” He sounds much more comfortable and inspired on the unshowy New York traditionalism of “Puerto Rican Rum” or “Angst,” orchestral chops that yearn and croon and take their time about it.

The former is produced by Mike G (the other Mike G). But the idea of the Odd Futurite and T.Shirt working together is interesting; they’re a duo with two vastly different approaches to impropriety. The Wolfgang flaunts mannerless teenage frustration on absurd levels that can drain the expressions of any authentic emotion. T.Shirt offends like an adult.

MP3: T. Shirt-“Angry”

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