This is a great album. Experimental, loud, passionate, intelligent music. You can just bob your head to some stuff or you can sit there and scrutinize every word (you know Sage did.) It stands up on a couple levels. And I heard at least 6 or 7 Public Enemy references throughout the album so Sage gets props just for that.
If you're not familiar with Sage Francis and you dig non-jiggy, independent, DIY hip hop then check out his stuff right now. His first full length "Personal Journalist", shot him ahead of the anticon clones and got the URB-type mags on his jock. AHD is a very different album. It pushes boundaries like "Personal Journalist" but it's, for the most part, louder, harder, and more electronic. It's the type of album that begs to played loud. You need it turned all the way up to feel the full effect of the changes and drops.
Did I say drops? Changes? Yes. AHD isn't set in a standard verse chorus verse chorus format whatsoever. Some songs change beats 3 or 4 times.
Some have hooks, some don't. Sometimes there'll be a verse that sounds like a hook, but he only hits you with it once. I think he's taken cues from the punk bands on his label (Epitaph) because some songs clock in
at two minutes. Which doesn't bother me at all because it's a solid two minutes, if you need a four minute song listen to it twice.
The production on this album is ridiculous. Dangermouse, Alias, SixToo, The Reanimator and others lace him with dope beats. Track two, "Sea Lion" is the stand out track. It starts off on a Radiohead/IDM/Blip-Hop type sound and then the beat drops and it's on. Pretty much every tracks' solid. If you want to get the gist check out "Sea Lion" "Escape Artist" "Dance Monkey" and "Crumble." You'll hear heartfelt reminiscing over minor key pianos, angry verses over crazy distorted bass, slow rhymes, lightning fast turbo charged stuff and even a little singing.
It's all tied together with intricate wordplay. Here's a sample. "Now it's whistle blower vs. the pistol holder. Case dismissed. They'll lock you up and throw away the key witness. Justice is the whim of a judge. Check his chest density. It leaves much room for error and the rest left to destiny. The west Memphis 3 lost paradise. It's death penalties vs. suicidal tendencies. All I wanted was a fucking pepsi...."
AHD drops in February and I can say with confidence that it will be one of my favorite albums of the year. So check it out and then show it to your friends who claim to hate rap and watch them change their tune.
By Tony Vitali