Sunday, May 03, 2009

Alexipharmic: "American Beauty" album review

Regular readers will undoubtedly have noticed that we don't cover a lot of hip hop here.  However, once in a while there's an artist that comes around with something different that warrants talking about.  Alexipharmic and his new album American Beauty is one of those artists.

The Pacific Northwest is not a place you would expect to stumble across a socially conscious rapper.  But that's the roots of Alexipharmic.

It's pretty apparent from the very first verse of "American" that Alexipharmic has an agenda.  His highly personal raps run the gamut of what his perceived injustices, including homelessness, war, STDs, body image, and poverty.  

Those topics are juxtaposed against the bright, often fun beats of the music.  There's some nice funk guitar sprinkled on tracks like "Beauty" as well.  It's an interesting technique, but one that doesn't always work.  From time-to-time the music can carry the listener away, distracting them from the message Alexipharmic is trying to deliver.

Alexipharmic, a self-described "Zen Buddhist that raps" is joined by a plethora of guest musicians and producers.  The best of these is the appearance of Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. on "Stardust".

Even the cover art is designed to impart Alexipharmic's message.  A collage of pictures of hundreds of homeless Americans is cleverly used to create a larger image of an "American Beauty".

Unlike a lot of artists Alexipharmic definitely puts his money where his mouth is.  Half of the net proceeds from the album and 100% of the net tour proceeds will go to homeless and children's charities.

While American Beauty isn't enough to make me embrace the hip hop genre wholeheartedly, it is a worthy cause and a solid record.

Best tracks: "Colossus", "Beauty"

Track listing for American Beauty:
  • American
  • Colossus
  • Sun
  • Sex
  • Beauty
  • Stardust
  • Atefah
  • Innocence
  • Homecoming
  • Kings
  • I
  • Bend
  • Life
  • Elephants

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