2Mex: Sweat Lodge Infinite

David Morris


Sweat Lodge Infinite

Label: Temporary Whatever
US Release Date: 2003-10-14
UK Release Date: 2003-10-20

2Mex has quite a few shortcomings as an MC. His flow revolves largely around making sure that every one of his couplets rhymes (more or less) for at least the last three syllables -- or better yet, that they have multiple inside rhymes. He's got a tendency to use 25-cent words for the sake of it, out of context. A good example of this are lines like "The challenge is insurmountable / But God is water-soluble", or, say, "Pharmacy, the new farm harms me / New alarms charm me to avant-garde me". You might gather that hewing closely to this could make it pretty difficult to develop long narrative or thematic rhymes, but luckily, 2Mex doesn't bother. As shown above, his rhymes rarely have much cohesion over the course of even two bars, and they frequently devolve into near-meaningless babble (No, man, it's wordplay!). But the things 2Mex has going for him, he has going really strong -- like his stern, angry delivery. Or his ability, despite his lyrics' near-meaninglessness, to maintain a mood flawlessly and tap into a vein of urban crypto-gnosticism right next door to Killah Priest's. Or, most prominent on Sweat Lodge Infinite, his strong ear for beats.

2Mex's defining and enduring moment for me remains the song "Audible Angels", from the Visionaries album Galleries. Over a classic sample-based beat, he works his way through the alphabet, giving each letter half a bar and starting each word with the same letter for that span. "Attention all audible angels / Before buildings burn, before brains blow!" It doesn't quite match Gift of Gab's similar performance on "Alphabet Aerobics", but it's still really killer. There aren't any similarly ambitious vocal tricks here, with Mex on a much less experimental tip. Instead, he's in full floor-stomping mode, tempering his abstraction with a little bit of Chuck D -- and he's got the tracks to back him up.

Sweat Lodge Infinite falls into a category that is almost unpopulated these days -- it is produced entirely by one man, and it reaps the benefit of its uniqueness in a degree of coherency that's similarly rare. Longevity, of the group Darkleaf (whose album of last year was exceedingly slept on) is into hard, dark beats, though here he tones down the abstraction of the Darkleaf project slightly into something more straightforward. Maybe the essential track on this album is "Before the Format", on which Longevity mixes a short, insistent drum track with a squealing, repetitive synth line (one that I'm pretty sure showed up in much different form on an intro from El-P's Fantastic Damage) and comes up with something that would get you headbanging in the car as easily as jamming in the club. There is a certain underdone feeling to the beats -- most of them are little more than loops, but that works for the record as much as against it, lending to the raw, basement-session vibe.

The album's most serious flaw is the excessive presence of the more lackluster members of Mex's extended Project Blowed crew. Aceyalone and Busdriver are more than welcome, with Acey in particular seemingly gifting 2Mex with some rhythmic complexity by pure osmosis on the tracks "3 or 13" and "No Category". But the crew cuts "Copy That", "M.A.S.H.", and "Lightpost 2 Lightpost" are frankly sapped of energy by listless, imprecise flows that contrast poorly with Mex's fisticuffs. Perhaps most annoying of all, though, are the cuts by Mixmaster Wolf -- while he at least comes across as competent when just kicking in a few accents, as soon as he tries his hand at a solo he manages to make you wonder a) how many weeks ago he bought his Technics, and b) what everyone else was smoking when they decided to put him on. The worst sample of this comes at the tail end of "No Category", where his meandering, rhythm-fucking, uncreative, spastic scratching is the aural equivalent of a first-grader's crayon scribbles, without the charm. For all I know, he's the world's greatest party DJ, but having this particular session immortalized will do nothing for Wolf's career.

Despite the flaws, this remains a solid release for fans of 2Mex's other groups, and of Project Blowed in general. There's an undeniable, infectious energy that grows between the stern 2Mex and Longevity's grinding power beats. Also, the team spirit of these guys is something that is in and of itself fun to get a peek at, even if nothing here reaches the insane heights of the "Heavyweights" series of deep-crew singles. Like many of the Blowdians, 2Mex falls short of bringing truly next level shit, but he's really doing his damnedest, and there's definite pleasure to be had in hearing him reach.

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