Josh Martinez: The World Famous Sex Buffet

James Bassett

The People's Champ returns with his weakest album to date.

Josh Martinez

The World Famous Sex Buffet

Label: Camo Bear
First date: 2008-09-16
US Release Date: 2008-09-30
UK Release Date: 2008-09-29

It's easy to be impressed by Josh Martinez. Since his 1999 debut album, Josh Martinez & The Hooded Fang, he's played more than 200 dates per year all across the globe, headlined festivals, started his own record label (Camo Bear), signed deals with distributors in the UK, Europe, Japan, and North America, and still found time to front underground pop project the Chicharones and rowdy rock band the Pissed Off Wild. Martinez achieved all of this, and more, without the help of an established record label, manager, booking agent, or publicist.

In 2005, the Portland, Oregon, rapper decided to employ a full-time staff to give him the support necessary to continue his ludicrous workaholic lifestyle. The immediate result was 2005's Midriff Music, an album that won the Best Rap Recording gong at the Western Canadian Music Awards. Limited praise, perhaps, but nonetheless a sign that Martinez's hard work was paying off.

Unfortunately, it appears as though Martinez has tired himself out. For much of The World Famous Sex Buffet he sounds tired, lamenting that things aren't what they used to be. On excellent opener "All Rapped Out", Martinez speaks of his frustration with modern hip-hop: "The shows were packed / It was all so new / The fans bought the CDs to be down with you / The battle used to matter / Now it's just a shit show / These days it's all just politics and dick jokes".

"Grown Folks Music" continues the trend of Martinez venting his frustration with his contemporaries, using a piano and acoustic guitar on his opening to ram home the point that he's a "grown ass man making grown folks music". "Grown Folks Music" marks the end of a trio of terrific opening salvos (the two songs are bridged by "Ritalin Future Sounds" -- a funny and funky recollection of Gnarls Barkley's brilliant first album), but Martinez is never quite able to recover his stride.

"Strut" relies on an ill-advised "Blister in the Sun" riff to exert any kind of presence, while Martinez dresses "Underground Pop"'s thumping drums and scratches with interpolations of A Tribe Called Quest and Biggie lyrics. When Martinez slows the pace, the results are even less successful. "R.E.S.P.O.N.S.I.B.I.L.I.T.Y." is turgid and dull, while the blues guitar-led "Beerhunger Lovestory" needed a far better beat to disguise the corny frat boy humour that Martinez occasionally insists on pushing. The stoned ersatz psych of "Trickle Down Trauma" doesn't work on any level.

There are moments outside of the first three tracks when Martinez does get back on track. "Fight or Fuck" is akin to Aquemini-era Outkast, offering organic beats and double-time rhymes that collide with intergalactic synth runs and elements of P-Funk-inspired swirls. "Going Back to Hali" offers a low-down, ass-shaking beat and is easily the album's most danceable track.

It's a real shame that The World Famous Sex Buffet doesn't quite work. Martinez's writing is still focussed and furious, his punchlines still deliver both laughs and provocation. At his best, he's still an exquisitely literate hip-hop everyman, but despite all his hard work, Martinez has always been under-appreciated. This time, unfortunately, he deserves to be.




Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.


A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.


The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.