The Basics EP

Artist: Bisc1Title: The Basics EPRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Often times, Hip-Hop’s most talented MC’s got their first Rap checks designing logos and doing murals. Miami’s Skam? and El Da Sensei can testify to that. Bisc1 is the Connecticut born, Brooklyn learned designer behind logos for Def Jux and Eastern Conference. The artist listened, watched, and chipped away at open mics and showcases for some years, and he delivers The Basics EP (Embedded) based on reflection and empathy.

For a debut, Bisc1’s writing is some of the most digestible details an MC can offer. He writes greatly about the human condition–focusing largely on his thoughts and feelings, without being overly melodramatic. “Pieces” is the darkest it gets: referencing to the apocalypse in Hip-Hop, nature, and society. Even in relatively perkier moments such as “The Basics”, nothing is jovial. The most uplifting song on the album feels less of an affirmation than an outcry. This EP has a lot of intimacy in its writing, very analytic commentary, but a dynamic sense of hope. In the vein of Atmosphere’s Lucy Ford Vordul Mega’s The Revolution of Young Havocs, these are great raps for a cold winter.

The mood of the music on The Basics plays well against Bisc1’s lyrics. “Decompression” combines piano chords, an Indie Rock vocal sample, and live percussion for a unique sound. Drake also manipulates the beat halfway through, upholding Embedded’s reputation for refined production. Drake also freaks the title track using familiar drums from DJ Shadow’s “Walkie Talkie”, only with electronic background noise. DJ Ese contributes to two of the EP’s six songs, including the extremely sophisticated “Lights Out” which mixes horns with synthesizers and a great kick & snare arrangement.

The EP plays slower and less enthused than most, but Bisc1’s word choices and subject matter seem carefully chosen. He means what he says, and that’s rare. The Basics offers a lot, but demands a specific listener. Those interested in headphone rap, nihilism, and gritty production will find one of the better albums of the season, in short-form.