The members of Tanya Morgan are hip-hop geeks’ favorite hip-hop geeks, a trio of True School believers who met on the Okayplayer message boards and bonded over a shared love of everything Native Tongues. Now, Tanya Morgan rapper Donwill has taken musical geekdom to new levels with Don Cusack In High Fidelity, a concept album in which the Cincinnatian raps from the perspective of the lead character in the feature-film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s seminal novel about a musical obsessive and the women in his life.
Film-based concept albums tend to bear only the slightest resemblance to their ostensible inspirations, but Donwill sticks refreshingly close to the script here, whether he’s seething with bitterness toward the creepy hippie usurper played by Tim Robbins in the film (“Ian’s Song”) or roping in his Tanya Morgan associates to play his co-workers at a record store trafficking in vintage vinyl and shameless musical snobbery (“Championship Vinyl”). But mostly, High Fidelity nails the tricky tone of the film that inspired it, with its alternating currents of romanticism and bitterness, nostalgia and regret. It’s a grown-up meditation on love and loss from a gifted rapper who found his voice as a solo artist by slipping inside the skin of a fictional character.