Edan: Primitive Plus

For a musical genre built on reconfiguring and recycling the music of the past, hip-hop has spawned remarkably few retro-minded acts. Sure, artists like Ugly Duckling, Quasimoto, and People Under The Stairs draw heavily from hip-hop's history. But rap has a long way to go before it can catch up with pop and rock, where entire retro movements can be traced directly to the sound of Bowie in '72, The Beach Boys in '66, or early Velvet Underground. A 21-year-old white kid with a serious appreciation for hip-hop's golden age, Edan looks to do for heroes like Slick Rick, Rakim, Marley Marl, and KRS-One what the similarly nostalgia-minded Jurassic 5 did for the early days of old-school. Edan wears his influences on his sleeve, shouting out his heroes on a regular basis and peppering his debut with countless production and lyrical homages, but his work transcends mere imitation. For Edan, hip-hop—particularly 1988-era hip-hop—is just a lot of fun, and the sense of excitement and enthusiasm he brings to Primitive Plus is contagious. Produced almost entirely by Edan, who also provides the scratching, the album sounds like a homemade demo by a kid still giddy about all the cool sounds he can make with two turntables and a microphone. On "Ultra '88," Edan pays homage to Kool Keith by presenting the song as a lost track from the glory days of Ultramagnetic MC's, and Keith's influence can be found both in the rapper's loopy, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and in his goofy sense of humor. "Run That Shit!" offers a narrative extolling the virtues of robbing fools for their belongings, while "Sing It, Shitface" finds Edan crashing a third-grade spelling bee and sampling a dusty, crackling Japanese record for a chorus. Nothing on Primitive Plus quite matches the playful perfection of "How We Met," Edan and Count Bass D's awe-inspiring collaboration on Bass D's Dwight Spitz, but Primitive Plus' one-man-band approach provides cohesiveness and consistency. One of the year's most promising debuts, Primitive Plus makes the beats of yesterday and the flows of today sound like the hip-hop of tomorrow.

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