[10 July 2008]
This is being typed in all earnestness, please read it as such: Y-Love is an artist that has a career solely because of George W. Bush and Matisyahu. If ever there were coattails on the latter’s 15-minute stint, Y-Love found and firmly attached himself to them while growing ever enraged by George Dub’s economic and foreign policies.
Y-Love is a rhyme-slinging orthodox Jew, and to put it lightly, a niche artist at best. His latest attempt, This Is Babylon, is a record that grounds itself in Zionist thought and outspoken political criticism. And as if that’s not enough, Y-Love’s gimmick is that he’s the Rosetta Stone of hip-hop, integrating Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin into his overwhelmingly English lines. Unfortunately for Love—note the hilarious puns that can be played upon Y-Love—there’s absolutely no use for this shtick outside of filling a needless gap in hip-hop.
This Is Babylon flatlines shortly after its coma-inducing start—this is the music Dr. Dre would play in his reception room if he specialized in root canals or something as utterly dreaded. The title track opens the disc. It’s a monotonous struggle, wherein Y-Love attempts to tie together insightful albeit senseless lines (“This is Babylon / Land of the law that crime pays”) and a slew of—to any English speaker—incomprehensible and often offbeat Arabic/Hebrew/Aramaic/Latin (?) words in the chorus.
Through the record’s ensuing 13 tracks, it doesn’t get any better either. On the following track, “Bump”, Y-Love sings the chorus, “Come along, bring the party to life / Jump with it, bump with it”, with about as much enthusiasm as a 7th grade substitute teacher, drolling over the lines as if they were a chore rather than, ya know, trying to get a party started. And the hyper-protest “6000” is one of the most uncontrolled hip-hop tracks in recent memory. The unbearably herky-jerky delivery makes the syncopated, electronic cluster-fuck production that much more disorienting. Meanwhile, Y-Love interjects random, louder-than-other-lines lines (“This is America!,” “How do you remove a dictator from office!!” “Tell me you believe Bush likes black people!!!!”) intended to shock the listener.
Where the vocals on This Is Babylon go up in flames, so to does the embarrassingly parochial production. Most tracks can be easily mapped into an intro/chorus-verse formula—if not even more basic constructions, boasting one progression. One decent sample does not a good beat make. Though that’s slightly misrepresentative of the sonic backgrounds: Given to a more proficient MC, the beats on This Is Babylon could almost certainly be turned into decent mixtape tracks.
There are few, if any, redeeming qualities on This Is Babylon. It’s a record that’s born out of a musically worthless premise and rides it until the disc’s prolonged conclusion. Y-Love certainly does know a number of languages and can probably utilize them rather effectively in his flows—as someone who only understands English, though, I have no idea. But unless you’re seeking out Bush protest songs, and I assume a number of people are, This Is Babylon is entirely dismissible.