Artist: Haiku D’etatTitle: Coup De TheatreRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman
Haiku D’etat, which literally means a “poetry takeover”, is a suiting name for the convergence of three of L.A.’s most gifted MCs: Aceyalone and Mikah 9 of Freestyle Fellowship, along with Abstract Rude. On their sophomore album, Coup De Theatre (Decon/Project Blowed), these representatives of L.A.’s world-renowned Project Blowed crew continue to deliver their open mic night-esque poetics over a cool collection of jazzy production, courtesy of Fat Jack and others. While not quite as spontaneous and potent as the Freestyle Fellowship’s classics, To Whom It May Concern and Inner City Griots, this album is undoubtedly a respectable continuance of Project Blowed’s clout.
In respect to the Project Blowed’s initial open-mic sessions ten years ago at L.A.’s now legendary Good Life Café, the oft live-feel of Haiku D’etat’s Hip-hop certainly seems to carry on the impulsive and unadulterated spirit of the Project Blowdians. This is especially true on “Transitions and Eras” (featuring Busdriver). Here, these Angelinos dub themselves the “sons of cool” as the sounds of a standup bass, piano and drums create the laidback, lounge-like mood. While more eerie than soothing, the title track, “Coup De Theatre,” carries a similar, unpredictable spoken word quality that is likely to induce a feeling of watching these three MCs in a intimate and smoky venue located on a hard-to-find side street. Even if certain tracks sound more calculated than others, their jazz, poetry and soul-injected Hip-hop remains alluring throughout.
Whether Acey, Mikah and Ab Rude are showing us exactly why you shouldn’t take your loved ones for granted (“All Good Things”) or declaring their immense capabilities on the mic (“Top Qualified”), they continue to serve as a positive contrast to the major label exploited, stereotypical gangsterisms of West Coast rap. On the album’s official closing cut, “Built 2 Last,” they describe their unbreakable foundation as being like Run-DMC: “tougher than leather.” With over ten years of unwavering self-expression engrained deep into the history of left field Hip-hop, this album is proof that Haiku D’etat and their greater Project Blowed camaraderie aren’t going anywhere. Thus, any Hip-hopper who can appreciate reliable yet unpredictable music will find something to take out of Coup De Theatre.