Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • A Toothpaste Suburb [Ruby Yacht, 2014] ***
  • So the Flies Don't Come [Ruby Yacht, 2015] A-
  • Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?! [Ruby Yacht, 2017] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Toothpaste Suburb [Ruby Yacht, 2014]
Dropping names from Schopenhauer to Pat Sajak over textural synthbeats that know not the One, in 2014 this sweet, alienated, autoerudite young rapper is still at the point where pals like Kool A.D. and Busdriver cut him without meaning to ("Just Us [A Reprise for Robert Who Has Not Been Forgotten]," "In Gaol," "Objectifying Rabbits") ***

So the Flies Don't Come [Ruby Yacht, 2015]
Impressed by its hooky guests--Kool A.D a slacker trouper, Busdriver an omnivorous networker, but also, shit, Anderson .Paak!!--I initially preferred the Kenosha/Maine/L.A. prodigy's 2014 de facto debut. But here, on his 2015 try, producer Kenny Segal helps the well-read alt-rapper who wants everyone to know that his Spanish-language birthname translates blacksmith grab hold of a human, unquantized groove more flow than funk--of zingers from the "They couldn't predicate upon a precipice" howdy-doo to the rapid-fire clarity of a closer predicated on the proposition that "I don't even have to rap/My nigga it's about if you can talk good." "Reading Nausea in a tent with a girl named Sasha" well before he started rolling with "Failed draft dodgers and niggas teaching at Dartmouth," he knows what he thinks soul is and that's his goal: "that in which spirit has its being." A-

Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?! [Ruby Yacht, 2017]
Just as sound, an opener dominated by James Baldwin expatiating in his pellucid prose about poetry as a holy calling is as gorgeous as anything on a 2017 Kenny Segal production far more experimental musically than its predecessor. Rereading Nabokov, mad that Tim Kaine can't see disaster coming, paging just-deceased actor Bill Nunn on his way to "They were convinced Sufism was expressed by hat choice/Auto-dictate my didact and map it to black noise," and dissing "J.Z. Smith" before capping "The Young Man Has a Point (Nurture)" with "The point is my vocabulary pays my rent," he also stuffs the following into the penultimate "Embroidering Machine": colostrum, medieval weaponry, an Orange County rock band not in my recall memory, a Kurt Vonnegut story not in my recall memory, his ignorance of the details of crack manufacture, and his lifelong mission of raising the psychologically insensate from their stupors as what A Tribe Called Quest called a resurrector. On the other hand, "Note to Mrs" is just a dreamsong to his wife: nothing more, nothing less. A-