Artist: StimulusTitle: A Kings County TaleRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Latifah Muhammad
On his debut solo album, A King’s County Tale (Sugar Water), Stimulus provides us with lyrical ear candy, by impeccably telling one story after the next on this 15 track disc. The Brooklyn dwellers album opens with “The Story”, a well-written tale of Hip-Hop, but disguised in the main characters trials and tribulations. If you don’t listen carefully, you may miss the point, because each character, starting with Kurtis who loved “Blow” to the Doctor whose real name was “Dre” plays a roll in the life and evolution of a story of Hip-Hop. For Stimulus, and the rest of this strong album, telling his parables results in good music, period.
Explaining his name on the song “S.T.I.M.U.L.U.S.” the up-tempo beat infuses a xylophone and complements his straightforward, but witty, rap style. The song allows Stimulus to explain the difference between him and rappers whose videos are on heavy rotation on MTV, while adamantly proclaiming Hip-Hop is far from deceased.
With confidence in his rap style and his purpose in the Hip-Hop game (which is to, of course stimulate people’s minds), Stimulus shows diversity in his content. “The Middle” featuring Dionysos, the other half of the group Stimulus is part of, The Real Live Show, says that our generation has no great wars, no real suffering, and thus no purpose. But as the chorus questions our motives, the lyrics are relatable as they touch on the struggle of being a young person in America and dealing with paying back student loans, or riding public transportation to get to a job that barely pays enough to survive. But it’s not all serious as the song “So High” deals with his close relationship with the blunt.
There are a few tracks that can be skipped, though. “Move” featuring Spagga is unbalanced thanks to a crazy all-over-the-place Spanish hook that sounds like a bad trip on LSD while “Race Against the Sun” is a big band style song that fizzles. Still, A King’s County Tale is enjoyable from beginning to end.
Artist like Stimulus provide Hip-Hop with balance, by giving us music untainted by commercial demands and reminding us that lyrics are just as important as image. There are no catchy hooks or computerized beats taking away from his words. The music takes a back seat by merely becoming a backdrop for his lyrical excellence.