By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
Just as I was lamenting the paucity of new subject matter in rap, along comes these two Valley releases from Intrinzik and Goliath Monsignor. A lot has happened since Intrinzik's last CD, and on Tricks of the Trade he's eager to expose all the smoke-and-mirrors techniques rappers employ, from renting all the bling you see on videos, to beefing up vocals in ProTools, to reading rhymes off cue cards. Intrinzik is confident enough to tell listeners he works at Long John Silver's, frying up shrimp to pay his bills -- a bold confession that most rappers worth their weight in brags would take a bullet in the head before admitting. Like the fat girl who makes jokes about her weight before anyone else does, Intrinzik realizes that as a white rapper, he's an easy target as either an Eminem wanna-be or a Vanilla Ice second coming. As a result, he's constantly lowering the boom on himself ("This ain't rhythm and blues, this is a rhythm-less Jew") while simultaneously delivering the goods. Guest appearances include the Phunk Junkeez and Cappadonna of the Wu-Tang Clan (on the terrifically ominous "Lousy World"). And the credit-card cover art is a unique motif for INTZ's current independent status: "By using this card, the holder agrees to sign his life away to the music industry."
Not since Gravediggaz has anyone pursued gothic/horror rap with such malodorous relish as Ako Mack, a.k.a. Goliath Monsignor, on The Killa Phenomenal "Day One." There aren't any rap-battle appointments on the calendar for Goliath, who draws strength from every murder and war, and counts cannibals like Jeffrey Dahmer among his warriors. Sample threat: "When the cup of calamity runneth over, Goliath will feed/No being will be safe/None will survive and no world will regerminate . . . in nine days man will submit to the will of Goliath or die." And if you're a ferret, you're still not off the hook ("This is not exclusive to man but all beings in existence"). Doom was never more hilarious, and you'll probably see "Your suffering will be legendary in hell" bumper stickers if Goliath gets his minions to form a street team (hokispokisrecords.com).
Lastly, we turn to Shelby James, onetime member of Truckers on Speed, who teams up with Terry Garvin of the Zen Lunatics and Mark Kopenits of Grey Room Studios to form Shelby James & The Crying Shamesfor Downs on 9th, a no-nonsense set of acoustic rockers, highlighted by the slow and slide-guitar-haunted kiss-off, "Lettin' You Know" ("You can tell your mother that you found another/You can tell your friends that I got too high/Go back to school I'm sure they're waiting there for you") and the Skynyrd-ish drinking anthem, "Scarlet Harlot," which advises, "Fuck Nashville, c'mon let's dance." James doesn't have an expansive range (the laid-back cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" leaves the original's high notes and melody where they are), but it's an expressive one, capturing both the crushed hope and the cockeyed optimism of an Everyman who enjoys a good drink -- but who rarely stops at one.