Rusty Redenbacher doesn't have to prove much to his longtime fans, but his impressive repertoire keeps growing. This multifaceted emcee can almost always be found tweeting, spinning on WTLC or performing live all around the city. With this in mind, his newest release, Lower, comes off as both as marriage of his varied influences and his success as a Midwest hip-hop artist.
The self-produced, Lower begins with a cacophony of layered vocal samples. Drawing from a myriad of sources, the easiest to identify is Will Ferrell, who I believe happens to be doing his infamous Robert Goulet impression. With the needle dropping on a track like this, it's evident that Rusty's latest album is going to be a grab bag of funk, goofiness and wide influences. The third track, "Lemmigitpaid," bumps an old school strutting synth. Accompanied by Rusty's smooth and drawn out "paaaaaid" hook, this song just begs to be blared from a stereo in the summertime.
Although much of the album comes off groovy and melodic, Redenbacher doesn't shy away exploring more foreign terrain. The cut "Good To See You Again" recounts running into an old loved one, and experiencing the disappointment of discovering that life hasn't been too sweet to them. More of a rhythmic chant than a rap he sings, "It shouldn't be like this, You used to be my hero." Next up, David Bowie's "Golden Years" is transplanted as the skeleton of Redenbacher's own version of the song. This song is more of a Rusty remix that takes Bowie's original and deep fries it in a mixture of electronic-synth and bass. This rendition is masterfully mixed, and really revitalizes the track in a well-polished manner.
By this time any influence found on Lower couldn't come as a surprise, and track number 13 could've been a skit off a George Clinton album. Hovercraft references and futuristic noises abound, as Rusty describes a time he almost jammed with Jimi. The last few songs on Lower certainly take on a spacey ambiance, and "Roundabouthere (Rightaboutnow)" is no exception. Lifting a riff off the song "Roundabout" by prog-rock grandfathers, Yes, Rusty achieves a mixture this writer never thought possible. Melding a danceable beat and lyrics with this hit from '71, "Roundabouthere," creating one of the most notable sounds on the record.
Redenbacher's versatility and ability to weave unlikely sounds together makes Lower a necessary listen for 2013.