Armed with urgent rhymes and apocalyptic production, Bisco Smith's The Broadcast is a moody listening experience that's equal parts greatness and frustration.
Bisco Smith is taking a bit of chance with his latest release. He, like many other rappers before him, changed his stage name. Previously known as Bisc1, he dropped several strong efforts, particularly 2008's When Electric Night Falls. Yet, after numerous years under his belt and a newfound sense of self, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Connecticut MC/graffiti artist now goes by Bisco Smith. He's chosen the perfect means of making his new name known because The Broadcast is sure to turn some heads, even with its moments of monotony.
Smith and his production-partner J. vegus waste no time getting into it with album-opening "Tune In". This track hits with an apocalyptic beat in the vein of El-P and stream-of-consciousness flow akin to Aesop Rock. And several other tracks, such as synthesizer-heavy posse-cut "Railroads", evoke similar imagery. In other words, fans of alt-hop label Definitive Jux (also known as Def Jukies) are likely to enjoy what they hear on this record. Other listeners, though, might not be so receptive to the urgency of J.vegus' organic production style and Smith's descriptive, yet sometimes-droning flow. "Vibrations", for one, boasts a fuzzy, distortion-laden beat that fails to resonate because of the forced rapping. While his microphone presence and cadence are clearly refined, Smith has difficulty carrying the entirety of The Broadcast. It all makes for a moody listening experience that simultaneously oozes greatness and frustration.