B L A C K I E Wilderness of North America
When B L A C K I E showed up on the local indie-rock and underground-rap scenes, Houston was pretty impressed. The MC/producer born Michael Lacour twists the laws of the metronome into abstract beats to back his equally oddly-timed lyrics. The formula is impressive and different, and Lacour’s live performances only add to the intensity: he jumps off speakers, runs up walls and walks all over the venue (while singing). Whether recording or performing, there’s no place Lacour won’t explore. But as his debut albumWilderness of North America
proves, shock and awe won’t work forever.
The record opens with the booming “That’s Right,” arguably Wilderness’ strongest track. It’s B L A C K I E in his element: a well-crafted sonic mash-up of samples, synth bleeps and bloops and sporadic drum tracks. This is followed with “Big Big Jokes Jokes,” where Lacour’s Biz Markie vocals unspool a slowed-down rant with lyrics like “I don’t even jam rap / I listen to jazz, man.”
He speeds up again with “Regrets of an Average African American Amateur Drug Lord.” The album continues on this fast-then-slow trend, but after about track five or six, things start to fade out – including listeners' attention spans. The record trails off in a jumble of uninteresting beats and rambling lyrics.
There’s a solid four or five tracks in this Wilderness, but the rest seem to be afterthoughts, counting too much on spaced-out sounds and distortion. Sure, odd samples – Cat Stevens, ABBA – are great attention-grabbers, and Lacour has the talent and charisma to hold audiences' attention... just not here. His future efforts need to be filled with a non-stop, track-for-track effort that pushes through and doesn’t let go instead of nodding and drifting off into the same outer space his sounds seem to come from. - Dusti Rhodes
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