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Co$$

Before I Awoke

(Tres; US: 21 Jun 2011; UK: 21 Jun 2011)

A long, hot summer offers a long, hot album

LA-based Co$$ possesses a voice you’ll either love as “classic” or denigrate as “cliché”, depending on your point of view. Co$$ spits rhymes with smooth verve and immense confidence, punning on such topics as “Killafornia”, “when thugs cry”, Rain Man and Star Wars. The beats are simple enough, with plenty of snappy snare, but the underlying bed of sound leans heavily on R&B-style synths and vocals. The contrast between such radio-friendly sounds and Co$$‘s often double-time delivery creates an effective tension that keeps the tunes from sagging either sonically or thematically. (See also: the tinkling lounge piano running throughout “Spaceman”.)


At 19 tracks and 70-plus minutes, Co$$ certainly has time to take a few detours, and he isn’t afraid to do so. Generally, though, the production is smooth enough to make listening worthwhile. This isn’t to say that the lyricism is entirely flawless. Opening track “Risen” contains the priceless chorus, “From this I have risen from”. Shades of Spinal Tap’s “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”—and if you don’t find anything wrong with that, Co$$ might be your new favorite emcee.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Co$$ - "Spaceman"
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