Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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R.A.P. Ferreira: Purple Moonlight Pages [Ruby Yacht, 2020]
Bad on me for missing Roy Allen Philip when he was rapping as Milo pre-Trump and promise I'll address that omission sometime, as only befits a sui generis Omar Khayyam fan whose return to the lists begins "Fence-building nihilists, good evening/This is the late-sleeping utopian speaking" and whose young son stares with "them wide ol' eyes" as "I scoop socks calmly from under chairs" in a rap with the striking title "Laundry." Son of Chicago South Siders who spent his childhood in Maine and his adolescence with his dad in none other than Kenosha, Wisconsin, then returned to the precincts where his social worker mom maintains a blog called Black Girl in Maine, Roy's not a great rhymer-as-rhymer. Nor is he especially hooky or at all danceable as he free-forms over a striking, changeable jazz-inflected rhythm section curated by Serengeti pal Kenny Segal. As a "king poetical dingbat" and "prince of the corduroy coons," he observes: "Professional rappers often only heard post-mortem/Perhaps try trade school, electrician training seems prescient" (which I should mention will soon assonate with "hesitant"). His motto "No starvin' artists/Just artists starvin' to know," a member in good standing of "The United Defenders of International Good Will," he does his best to enjoy the occasional "vegan white cheddar please panini croissant" as he follows advice he once came across on a bathroom wall: "to be the eyes, the ears, and the consciousness of the creator of the universe." A