So often Hip-Hop critics focus on what’s being said, and not how it’s being said. On the contrary, label heads and casual Hip-Hop enthusiast focus more on delivery as opposed to content. The result; the unwarranted deification of those rare gems that possess both. New York City graphics artist and newest addition to the realm of conscious MC, Bisco Smith, tries his hand at straddling both on his latest release The Broadcast. While he fails, considerably, what’s left is an overwhelming amount of potential and hope for the future of Hip-Hop.
The scruffy white boy from Connecticut began to garner a buzz after the release of his 2008 debut album When Electric Night Falls. He followed-up with 2009’s The Strange Love Project; both albums integrated all of the elements of New York’s gritty underground Hip-Hop scene that Smith adopted as a respected club DJ and graffiti artist. On his latest release The Broadcast, we find a more socially conscious Smith, with a different flow and an enormous assist from New York-based producer, J. Vegus.
The Broadcast attempts to broaden the horizons of Hip-Hop heads by incorporating elements of dub-step and electro-pop, laced with a visually stimulating flow. But even with this formulaic approach to deviation, Smith still misses the mark. On the album’s debut single, “Morning Breath,” Smith raps about the “marathon of life” and the paths that different roads can lead you down. His lyrics are laudable but his delivery is rough, not only in tone, but in cohesiveness and clarity. Luckily, J.Vegus is there to pick up the slack with his definitive mesh of 90s break-beat and crazy electro synths.
It becomes quite clear, from the very beginning of the album that the duo does not diverge much from the formula- predictable flow- untimely and ambiguous, over hard-hitting, head nodding tracks. The album’s second single, “Vibrations” is full of heavy bass lines, sharp synthesizers and pulsating drums, which become redundant after track four. (Note to producers: it’s okay to be good at one thing, just not one thing on an entire album). The subject matter, too, is uniform and monotonous on this track, which focuses on life’s lessons and how to sift through the good and bad experiences.
“Tune In” is one of the better songs on the album, because here we are able to take notice of Smith sounding confident, compelling and organic as he spits his social observational, righteous flow. Similarly, on “Time Zones” Smith shows his lyrical prowess, over a slightly variant backdrop by J. Vegus. Issue is, even at his best lyrically; one isn’t afforded the opportunity to fully digest Smith’s intent because his delivery is so amateur. The breaths between bars, the inconsistent pace, and the muffled words- all take away from what Smith is trying to say, which is unfortunate because he has something to say.
Is Smith the next Eminem? Negative. Is he a pale version of Lupe Fiasco? Hardly. Is he the next Common? That’s pushing it. What he is, though, is mere steps away from being on the path that many of these artists have followed. With a little practice, a handful of eclectic producers and an oxygen tank, he has the ability to really diversify today’s mundane Hip-Hop scene. I’m just sad to broadcast that that day is not today, unfortunately.
out of 5
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