July 4, 2013
I’m Sorry I’m Broken, Raymond Strife (audio recording)
I'm Sorry, I'm Broken cover art
This is my favorite hip hop album of the year, hands down. Of course, it wasn’t really a competetion, with the minimal amount of hip hop I’ve digested this year, the fact the year is only halfway over, Raymond is my friend and I’m completely biased, and probably at least one other reason that the ballot was rigged. Seeing how Kanye West’s “Yeezus” should probably be my next review, but it’s far easier to just mention it and infinitely increase the chance that someone will stumble across this blog by accident for possibly popping up in “Yeezus” searches. You’re welcome, Ray!
Anywho, this is lovely stuff. Ray dances around the line of his album being jokey bullshit (actually funny jokey bullshit!) and “real talk”. Dangerous territory, for sure, but the quality of the jokes are worth the price of admission. Self loathing with a wink, self aggrandizing references to being a drunken comic book nerd. From Ray;
“Even in jest I say realer shit than some say
These MCs too busy stressin' whether or not their son’s gay
I’ve never seen armies of thugs so scared
Rappers are the most insecure people that I know, I swear”
This from track five, a bouncy soul-pop beat that samples George Carlin riffing on women’s rights, class warfare, and of course, abortion. What? Somehow, it all works.
Ray’s got all of his contradictions; an ambitious pizza delivery driver, a talented drunk, a hardass punk with anti-racist anti-homophic anthems. It all stews together into a fine paste of tasty songs. Some are hook driven (Piss Yawnin’ has a stupid catchy chorus, and Bi-Polar Narcissist has a ridiculously bombastic banger with wicked co-lead chorus vocals from Nikki Nailbomb, member of fellow Good Time Gang records friend-band-people Molly Rhythm) and other songs wander into more free style territory, but consistently keep it together.
Finally, a story that I feel might give some illumination to Ray’s character; The first time I met Ray was when he was travelling with another Jersey band and some rappers in our area, and stayed at our house after an out of town show. He was lost, wandering the streets of our neighborhood while members of his group tried to locate/call him in vain. The whole time he was lost wandering the streets in Lansing, Michigan, he was going through his phone book of Trenton friends begging for rides home, swearing to them that he was not on tour and near specific Trenton streets and landmarks. This was not a joke, Ray was just really drunk.
Once he finally returned, he regaled us of misadventures at the neighborhood gas station. Details were foggy, but Dude #1 wanted Ray to call Dude #2 gay. Ray took offense to this and informed the guys that he himself was gay (Ray is heterosexual, for the record). It escalated and Ray knocked out Dude #1 in the parking lot.
When he told us this, we all laughed, at which point Ray turned on me, thinking I was laughing “at” him, not “with” him. He tried to fight me in our yard, but passed out shortly after, and bought me bourbon the next day feeling so bad that he tried to start a fight. We’ve been friends ever since. THE END.