Anticon's Sole: Non-black, non-urban, non-oppressed rap.

Various Artists

Oh, what to do when you're non-black, non-urban and non-oppressed, and yet yearn for entree into the cool-kids clique of hip-hop? Vanilla Ice and Kid Rock decided to just lie about their histories; Everlast claimed being Irish American made him a minority; Eminem played up his white trash mom and made sure to align himself with Dr. Dre. Perhaps the most effective tack in the past was that of the Beastie Boys, who buried the issue under an endless barrage of pop culture references and goofy jokes that rang true with all ethnicities. The Beasties avoided the potential hazard of rapping about their own everyday realities -- the dominant theme of the hip-hop narrative -- by reaching outside, to the extrinsic symbols of larger, non-hip-hop society.

The Anticon collective -- an entrenchment of Internet-savvy, non-black rappers from the smaller big cities of America -- took a bold new approach to the conundrum. They decided to rap about their daily lives, subject matter traditionally reserved for those of apparently less privileged backgrounds. Sure, there are a few Tarantino-isms thrown in on this, their second compilation -- descriptions of themselves as "postmodern Pat Boones," a mention of a Teletubby here and there -- but the bulk of the lyrics describe life as a white, male college dropout. "I'm not looking for sympathy, apology for my hardship/All I need is good food, good music, and companionship," label founder Sole raps with sincerity.

This unapologetically outsider tactic has greatly annoyed large portions of the hip-hop community, but then so have those taken by every other white rapper. Also, the production doesn't exactly invite the hip-hop purist with open arms. Loops of rockish electric guitar (the group cut "We Ain't Fessin"), fizzles of digital static (Sole's "Silence"), and stomach-churning cello groans (Sole & Dose's "A.D.D.") crop up as often as boom-bap drums and other familiar hip-hop identifiers. Sometimes their gleeful upsetting of convention is endearing; nearly as often it's just wack. The Anticon Giga-single is recommended only for adventurous hip-hoppers and those who have felt alienated by the music's overstuffed egos and big-man posturings.


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