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Count Bass D - Begborrowsteel

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Artist: Count Bass D

Album: Begborrowsteel

Label: Ramp

Review date: Feb. 20, 2005

Begborrowsteel is a little too disjointed to be genius itself, but it might be the work of a genius just playing around in the studio. Sixteen “songs,” often spanning less than a minute, fly by seemingly too short to stick, but somehow do; this is more a concentrated album than an EP, even when the songs are more incomplete than short. And it all probably amounts to the best work of Count Bass D’s career so far.

The oddball D, who released one of the first hip hop albums in which the emcee played every instrument involved (Pre-Life Crisis), has converted himself to a true loop digger, constructing several songs from nothing but beats, obscure radio interviews (“Nina & Weldon” uses one of Nina Simone’s) or old movies (“Bullets Hit Brains”). The combination of amazing samples and odd-subjected raps like tooth decay and Zoloft (“Drug Abusage”) and group sex (“The Mingus Sextet”) make for unusual little songs. Even those not sold on the odd flow of the Count can admit he has developed into an excellent producer, “to old beats indebted” but nevertheless strikingly original.

On the only song that fits anything like a single format, “Down Easy,” D is singing, not well, but convincingly. “Low Batteries,” on the other hand, just starts out sounding like a somewhat normal rap song until, like an old Walkman, it starts to slow down and the raps start turning scary: “Count is drinking / I will not take baths, still stinking…Fuck every last one of y’all….I’m 30 years old…” It sounds even better on the record than it does conceptually.

The quick flow of subjects and tracks slows towards the end, but while Begborrowsteel is in its comfort zone, it’s a surprisingly hooky record for something this strangely structured. It is possible that Count Bass D has done us all a favor by removing the hook, most of the lyrics, and sometimes even the context from the hip hop song, giving us the first-ever non-skit 58-second rap song. Or it is possible that this is just a strange preemptive strike from a talent we’ll see more of in 2005.

By Josh Drimmer

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