Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Selling Live Water [Anticon, 2003] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Selling Live Water [Anticon, 2003]
The shortfall of this uprooted state-of-Mainer is generic. Like so many underground rappers, he's actually what his meaner and cheerier coequal Busdriver calls, less sarcastically than he thinks, a "spoken-word artist." He writes poetry designed for declamation. "Never learned to dance because I exercise the right to write," so his beats are his rhymes and meters, and his scant music more atmosphere than rhythm. From a fringe foreseen by William Gibson, sharing cheap food and living quarters with fellow spirits he doesn't entirely trust if he can stand them at all, he speaks for a disenfranchised subculture that knows, as he says in his best line, "jobs ain't nothing but free pens and long distance calls." Certainly he understands things about this society that his better-adjusted contemporaries don't. But he's woefully short on not just empathy but humorous self-deprecation. With him, "I only rap because I ain't smart enough to write a book" is a species of boast. And when he does write a book, which he will, no one will read it. B