Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fat Tony

  • Rabdargab [HomeSkool Rekordz, 2010] **
  • Smart Ass Black Boy [Young One, 2013] A-
  • MacGregor Park [First One Up, 2017] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Rabdargab [HomeSkool Rekordz, 2010]
Smart funny goodnik learns to see past his dick, with beatz ("Not Now," "Bad") **

Smart Ass Black Boy [Young One, 2013]
Like so many alt types before him, the half-Nigerian Houston rapper relocates to Brooklyn--with no audible Nigeria in his flow and, beyond the slight drawl some young black New Yorkers also retain, not much Houston either. Or much alt, come to think on it. Mostly he recounts sexual-romantic and other contretemps--not conquests, not adventures, just situations, humanely and humorously understood, which some might say is kind of African after all. Even the lovely "Father's Day" has that vibe. The beats by his man Tom Cruz skip explicit melody to achieve textural continuity with electronically simulated and approximated drums, shakers, scrapers, and the like. All pretty homespun and imaginative. Like alt should be, come to think on it. A-

MacGregor Park [First One Up, 2017]
For a half hour that feels effortless, a respected alt-rapper who chooses his spots rolls out eight songs whose affability evokes Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." Since realism is Fat Tony's religion, there are hassles galore, but the cops let him off with a warning, his phone woes resolve, and hey, there's "Legal Weed" in only "a few states," but with "a few more on the way," plus you can carry an ounce in your pants. The title finale spends six minutes celebrating his favorite hang, which is at its sweetest on a Sunday that rhymes with "fun day" even if there was that knucklehead who stepped to him and it came to blows--but not, notice, gunplay. MacGregor Park anchors Tony's Third Ward hang in Houston, and from NYC I get the impression it could pass for a safe space. On Monday, August 28, as Harvey battered Fat Tony's hometown, the University of Houston cross-country team took practice there. Afterward, many of them switched gears to go rip up carpet and lift furniture out of water's way. A-