Shock City Maverick

Artist: BeansTitle: Shock City MaverickRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

On Beans’ sophomore album, Shock City Maverick (Warp Records), this left field MC/producer sounds like he just stepped out of a time machine that visited the Bronx in 1980, and 2020. This former member of Anti-Pop Consortium utilizes a unique combo of primitive and futuristic styling--behind the boards and the mic. Aside from some of El-P’s production, there’s not much Hip-hop out there today is comparable to the music of Beans. While artists who stick to their guns and ignore the rest of the industry’s antics should indeed be lauded, Beans’ out there, time traveling style is likely to mostly attract fans of the extra avant-garde.

Dissect the elements of almost any song off of Shock City Maverick and you’ll hear old-school drum patterns and spacey synth loops and sound effects aligned with an accelerated spoken word-esque delivery. Songs like “Blind Driver,” “Shards of Glass” and “Down By Law” are all enjoyable as they effectively showcase a crossing of Hip-hop’s past circa the early-80’s and its potential future. And Beans, with his extra-swift delivery doesn’t sputter a bit on the mic, making it hard to believe how many of these lazy-flowed rappers ever got put on. There’s no questioning Beans’ skill. Although, when he raps on the aforementioned “Blind Driver,” “Man, I walk a tightrope wearing two left shoes,” his showy style of proclaiming his uniqueness becomes all too apparent. And oftentimes his mish-mash of bravado and abstract poetics can be too much to ingest at once.

Like a wild style graffiti piece, Beans’ multi-layered music requires some time to decipher. But in the end Shock City Maverick is more of an abstract art gallery piece than an illegal burner superimposed onto a city rooftop. While his music does draw from fun and familiar sounds of Hip-hop’s elemental past, his wordplay leans towards being elusive, thus catering to a selective audience. Beans is a maverick indeed and those down with his unconventional styles should be pleased with Shock City.