He sounds hoarse and tough as he did when I last listened. "The Full Retard" could've been composed out of the sound of loading games on my ancient and obsolete Acorn Electron. There's even full on AM radio whistling manipulated on "Works Every Time" before layers of SNES fanfares and boozy choral la-la's build up to a tarnished piece of euphoria. The bare bones of it all add weight to the idea of a friendless prophet, spitting venomous truth and etting the ceteras.
"Drones Over Bklyn" is a promising title. Choppy, snare-inflected drums and broody synth growls that even includes a bit of a skank at points. Not so keen on the rocky breakdown at the end of the track. "I'd sooner wash my dick in acid than ask you what you think" he growls at his hipster neighbours. Drones working both for Afghanistan observations and Williamsburg Apple-acolytes, but I'm not sure I get the connection.
The gangsta gritty mood bleeds through hard on "Tougher Colder Killer", also featuring Killer Mike himself. It sounds lyrically out of place, stuffed with muthafuckas and the like. Most of the rest album is coloured by video games, seems less about the "reality of the streets" and more about ontological face/offs in the mirror. "Who sighs when you submit receipts?" he grumbles pithily on paranoid secret agent fantasy "The Jig Is Up", which blends into "Sign Here": "Just beneath that dry disguise/No-one knows you're soaking wet." Both songs mix politics and sex and relationships, which suggests he maybe has a hard time seperating the public and private in his home life.
"$ Vic/FTL (Me And You)" is massive, some soulful guitar and perhaps the chord progressions (damn my musicological feebleness!) kicking it into a different gear altogether. Running a sliver of gritty hope through the shoddy, grey dystopias that tower over his tunes. "I never feel so brave as when I'm looking at your face" he gushes, setting himself up with a Ready Brek glow to protect himself from all the geopolitical shit he's clouded in, his life "like a four dollar fink".
Rating: Gritty Stance out of Coin-Op Dystopias