August 2, 2012

Tosten Burks is solid as a lean elk.

Still not convinced that the El-P and Killer Mike matrimony signaled the fall of cross-niche hip-hop barriers? How about the Aussie, Jonti, working with New York wiseman Homeboy Sandman. The Olympics really do bring us all together. Or maybe, all it takes is a Stones Throw to knock down regional walls.

“Brown,” recorded for an episode of Radiolab, is thoroughly world-colliding, transporting Sandman’s dusty observations onto Jonti’s soaring anti-beat, with its expansive choir and minute tribal jangle. Keep waiting for the drum drop, it’s not coming. Hip-hop without high hats is still allowed to exist. Who knew?

The deep pockets provided by Jonti’s unobtrusiveness let Homeboy’s patient flow breathe, give space for each obtuse image to bloom. Earth mode. The lesson here is that to revolutionize a Queens emcee, just take away his breakbeat.

The jazz samples and drum loops have been holding Sandman back. Anybody rapping on such classically New York sounds can turn a phrase or two; that’s part of the classically New York sound. Jonti’s recontextualization gives shine to the obscurity and ambition of the UPenn grad’s phrases. I can buy into recontextualization. Maybe brown really is the color of love.

MP3: Homeboy Sandman w/ Jonti – “Brown”
MP3: Homeboy Sandman – “Whatchu Want From Me”

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