Artist: Junk ScienceTitle: Feeding EinsteinRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kevin Polowy
Positive. Backpack. Street sh*t. Nerd rap. Junk Science frontman Baje One fires off a checklist of rapjectives to brand his style at the very onset of this Brooklyn duo’s scientifically stellar debut Feeding Einstein (Embedded). And we damn sure appreciate the input. This review’s a wrap!
But wait. Somewhere along the ways independent Hip-Hop in New York went and gained some steam, and we’re beginning to see why (yeah this review is late we blame ya mama). First Cool Calm Pete tore outta the gates, going only 80 beats per minute but leaving jocks scattered and ankles shattered. Now his Embedded brethren Junk Science (from the Nuk Fam crew) prove you can be a positive backpacker and make Hip-Hop fun again.
Making throwaway references to the Flux Capacitor, Donnie Darko and Tetris Online all in one track automatically earns them a bid in Nerd Rap Madness, but Junk Science is one of the freshest, most electrifying outfits to emerge outta NYC since we found out Doujah Raze was from Virginia. Melodic emcee Baje One matches wit and personality with versatility and wordplay, while producer DJ Snafu lays down harder-than-Debo drums and swirling, atmospheric samples; killing it with that lethal combination platter over a rarely faltering 14 proper tracks.
“The Junk-Off” lays a foundation and begs for live appreciation, while the Scottsboro-crooned hook on “Roads” is how you might’ve imagined Mike Shinoda’s Hip-Hop jaunt to sound. But against Snafu’s riddim-like handclap groove on “Just One Thing”, Baje One evolves from “nice dude” to “dude nice on the mic,” alternating confessionals (“Spent my whole childhood trying to be like everybody else”) with throw-ya-Stella-in-the-air party raps (“Now if you can’t feel this/ You better check your pulse/ We make the club so hot/ You need to check your coats”).
That equilibrium has always been indie raps ambition, yet it’s rarely realized through and through. But Baje One can get introspective and cerebral without driving us to pop 50 Excedrins or bang our heads against God’s Bathroom Floor. And at their best, Junk Science can lead us into the treacherous waters of chanting “It’s that funky junky sound!” without fear we’ve woken up on Paper Boy’s tour bus in 1992.
They’ve got messages in their medium, too. The sing-songy “Ice Age” debunks all things bling through irreverent humor (more Leguizamo than Romano cheese). “Jack & Jill” may sample a nursery rhyme (bold move fellas), but it’s a jarring storytelling rap about Pubic Enemy Number 1. Which leads us to the unfortunately titled “House Wigger,” a brutally honest contemplation on race and namely, Caucasians in the Hip-Hop Nation. The very idea of the “plight” of a white rapper is debatable, but at the very least Baje One puts himself out there freely and unapologetically, the only true way to stir discourse.