King Britt: Adventures In Lo-fi

King Britt: Adventures In Lo-fi

Given rap music's widespread cinephilia, it's not surprising that rappers have begun producing elaborate concept albums based on movies. What's less expected are some of the movies that serve as inspiration: Nighthawks' self-titled debut channeled the nearly forgotten Sylvester Stallone/Billy Dee Williams vehicle Nighthawks, while King Britt's Adventures In Lo-fi adapts John Sayles' The Brother From Another Planet, hardly standard viewing for the average B-boy couch potato. The seventh installment of BBE's Beat Generation series, Lo-fi continues the pattern of past releases while deviating from it. Britt's fusion of lo-fi and sci-fi shares elements with other Beat Generation entries–an emphasis on beats over rhymes, a laid-back pace, and appearances from an inspired assortment of legends, cult heroes, and up-and-comers–but the disc's spacey high-concept places familiar elements into an intriguing new context. On Lo-fi, Rich Medina provides the voice of the disc's Funk Soul Brother From Another Planet, who gets a sonic tour of Earth from the album's guests. Lo-fi peaks early, with the inspired pairing of Bahamadia and Britt on "Transcend," which hews closer to the album's concept than any of its other proper songs. "Spaces" follows with a rare guest turn from Quasimoto and production that takes its sonic cues from his cracked genius of an alter ego, Madlib. As is the case with virtually every rap concept album, Lo-fi's concept proves to be its weakest element. Though Medina's criticism of the U.S. suggests he's been boning up on his Noam Chomsky at some intergalactic library, his poetry-slam-inflected philosophical ramblings all but beg for the fast-forward button. Still, inspired guest turns from De La Soul, Grand Agent, and Capitol A help make the album's fits of pretension forgivable. While Adventures In Lo-fi may not encapsulate the human condition in 22 tracks, it does keep pace with the rest of the Beat Generation series, a formidable achievement in itself.

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