Artist: One Block RadiusTitle: Long Story ShortRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Gorillaz, and arguably the Black Eyed Peas 2.0 have revealed that there’s an audience and success in fusing Rap, Rock, and Electronica. This gestalt of hip can be risky though, as Common’s Electric Circus and Oddjobs’ Expose Negative proved. One Block Radius takes that chance, combining members of Electronic-Rock group, Scapegoat Wax, and adding Hiero-family member, Z-Man into the mix. Long Story Short (Avatar) creates some wonderfully original music greater than the sum of its parts – digestible for the iTunes generation.
“Black Mercedes” is one of the album’s better moments. Though the song has no rapping, it emulates a modern Paisley Park sound – with a Pop hook and wonderful background vocals. But the rules are created from one song to the next. “Alone” has a New Wave feel to it, over whimsical studio percussion. The artistic diversity is impressive, especially for a three-member band, but there is no overall album theme. “Look Out Below” fails to register as a Hip-Hop song. Though Z-Man refuses to come short on rhymes, a busy, off-beat instrumental ruins all hopes of a groove. Like Cody Chestnutt’s Headphone Masterpiece, moment-to-moment, this album sounds groundbreaking and sounds like a lousy demo-tape at once.
Aligned with the lyrics and concepts, this band creates very hit-or-miss music. “Champion” channels the Fat Boys with its talk-box chorus and high-hats. Early 80’s Pop record enthusiasts may also appreciate the lovely way One Block Radius presents their choruses. “Not Enuff,” like “Black Mercedes,” has a throwback style worthy of a Casablanca or Solaar label. Then again, the more Rap-focused songs such as “I Like Him,” stick out – drawing attention to Z-Man, that he fails to maintain. Simple loops and Z-Man’s stories counter the style of Long Story Short.
One Block Radius proves to be a successful assembly of talent. If anything, Long Story Short allows Z-Man to branch out from the definitions of an MC. Equally, it showcases Marty James’ imagination and love for all things 1984. This isn’t an album you’ll want to play out with many people, but it has enough charm that it just may do your headphones some good.