Milwaukee hip-hoppers decry the state of their art but fail to offer a convincing alternative.
Bravado fails to make up for unoriginality on King Hell Bastard's Remember the Name EP, the first documented release from the in-your-face Milwaukee hip hop collective featuring local talents Akrobatik, Raashan Ahmad, Sadat-X, White Shadow and Stricklin. From the frantic, sample-driven beats to the obscure, ridiculously spelled pseudonyms, KHB (as the group loves to call itself) reps its hometown with the endemic desperation of disenfranchised alternative hip hop fans. "Hearin' the proof that hip hop's dead / But a voice in my head says 'It's not yet'", raps a nameless member of the crew on "Clubber Lang". The sentiment is common enough, but King Hell Bastard make this universal cry of overlooked MCs everywhere sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tracks like "I Believe" and "Ma'waukee" dive into idealistic bombast and urban tear-jerking with loquacious and self-righteous abandon. "I believe I was put up on this earth / To reveal what I feel till I'm put up in the dirt", raps another distraught MC on "I Believe". Frankly, Lil Wayne may be less sincere, but he's a hell of a lot more fun. If hip hop's moral crisis is as bad as members of King Hell Bastard would have us believe, they're going to need more than conviction and enthusiasm to save it. They might even need a sense of humor.