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Break Bread - Break Bread

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Artist: Break Bread

Album: Break Bread

Label: Peanuts & Corn

Review date: Jan. 18, 2005

After, say, three listens to Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), how many of the nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan could you recognize? Any answer greater than three is a lie: great as the Wu-Tang’s debut album was, there simply weren’t enough verses to go around for the average listener to tell U-God and Inspectah Deck apart. But Wu weren’t selling individuals (other than Method Man, the obvious first pick for solo album release), they were selling a brand.

To a lesser extent, the same group salesmanship is at work on the Break Bread Crew’s Break Bread EP, five songs from five emcees and one DJ who’ve already done quite a lot to put Peanuts and Corn Records, Vancouver, and Winnipeg (yes, Winnipeg) on the hip-hop map. As likeminded anti-materialistic emcees with odd voices and a love of strange name-checks (Pipi Skid proclaims himself a “Canadian great like Leslie Nielsen”), however, Gruf, mcenroe, Pipi Skid, Yy, and John Smith aren’t exactly complimentary talents, which makes Break Bread about as natural a supergroup as The Traveling Wilburys. The Wilburys had a sense of humor about that; Break Bread claims to have fans they’d like to “stab with broken bottles.”

The Break Bread EP isn’t as big a funcrusher plus as mcenroe and Birdapres’ Nothing Is Cool, but “Positive, Kay?,” a poor man’s rendition of The Streets’ “Stay Positive,” is an awfully depressing amalgam of sad stories over a generic strings-and-harps track. The EP’s production is otherwise capably handled by mcenroe, although after producing three full-lengths and an EP this year, some rest might be in order; the inclusion of these five tracks as “bonus” instrumentals isn’t exactly going to send DJs jumping for joy.

But although Break Bread teams up nicely with the right concept, like the tour travails of “Breakfast All Day,” the five emcees are just so anonymous within each other’s similar company that only on “No Other MC” do they get to shine as individuals…because Hunnicutt identifies each by name between the five verses. John Smith, who showed a knack for storytelling and detail on his own Pinky’s Laundromat but is lent few opportunities to show it here, personifies the album dilemma on the cover: he’s wearing a t-shirt with his own name on it.

By Josh Drimmer

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