Gran'dad's Nerve Tonic

by: Junk Science

Following the time-honored tradition of the DJ/MC combination, Brooklyn's Junk Science and recent additions to the Def Jux label blend Snafu's warm, dusty beats and Baje One's regular-guy rhymes to make friendly, laid-back hip-hop that throws back to old-school boom-bap while still ringing strongly of contemporary underground hip-hop, all the necessary oddball samples, loose delivery, and smooth, electronica-y keys included. The production is simple, and though not extraordinary, it fits the easygoing feel the duo concocts on their sophomore full-length, Gran'dad's Nerve Tonic. Clean, pretty chords play over muffled yet full drums while Baje rhymes about hanging out with friends ("Do It Easy," "Hey!"), advice on how to quit a job ("Jerry McGuire"), and of course, his skills as a rapper ("Woodchucks," "Pop Rocks"). Guru he is not, but it's fun, good-natured stuff, more about the overall vibe than each individual phrase. In fact, it's when the duo tries to be serious that things fall a little short. Although Snafu's beat on "Third-Person Stealth" -- the looped sample over slow, sad bass -- is pretty great, a nice change of pace from the rest of the album, the MC tries too hard to be serious, telling the story of a jailbreak and a lover's tryst gone awry, and the lyrics themselves sound forced and cliché, the actual rhymes overly simplistic ("All that he could think about was the promise that he made to her/That they would meet at midnight, if she's late he wouldn't wait for her/But he already knew that that would never happen, because she was always late and if he died it didn't matter"). But when Baje One talks about drinking beer and music and life in general, he sounds natural and relaxed and real, discussing what he knows, and songs like "Glass House," "Pop Rocks," and the addictive Daedelus remix of "Do It Easy" show this off well. It's still early enough in Junk Science's career that they can be excused for trying a bit too much, stretching a bit too far, because when they settle into themselves and what they are they prove that they're absolutely deserving of attention. ~ Marisa Brown

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