In an attempt to deviate from the feel-good rhymes of Mos Def or the mainstream-damn-near-pop appeal of Jay-Z, Lo Deck is trying to be a different kind of Brooklyn MC. What he wants to define himself as is less clear than the fact that he's not trying to be like anyone else. Sometimes, deviation is a great thing -- a perfect example is the psychologically-tormented Eminem, who had a flair for making people listen to his psychotic misogyny even when it got to far sicker than most people could stomach. At least he's talented enough to evoke those images in the first place, not to mention his incredibly precise flow, which, on some level, justifies the extremities he talks about.
On the other side of that, there are emcees like Lo Deck, who released his album, Bash It EPa few months ago. If you've heard a buzz about him, it'd be surprising, since he appears to have a great deal of vocal presence but little lyrical focus. On "Today," a song that is basically about nothing, he rhymes: "non-pretentious unless you don't fit into my next sentence" before he continues to ramble throughout the rest of the song, offering the most interesting line on the album with "The best orgasm is when life begins / The rest of the time / We're just bored and grim."
In a sense, he's slated himself to be the bad boy of underground rap, but he tries so hard that he ultimately comes across as hardcore as a guy who'd bring a butter knife to a war zone. There is some colorful language and clever lines on Bash It EP but most of those moments are eclipsed by the fact that this album is about weed and sex and not much else. Sure, a lot of rap music is about drugs and sex these days, but at least the beats can save a bland song subject. Or the charisma of a rapper can sometimes resurrect a boring topic simply because of his or her presence. Not so for our friend Lo Deck: He doesn't handle his subject matters well, though his boring flow blends well on boring music.
To his credit, LoDeck is not as pretentious as some underground MCs, who have a tendency to get beside themselves with metaphors and complex rhyme structures that sound very nice and when analyzed, can be mildly impressive. The problem is that the meaning can often be so obscure that it takes hours or minutes to really understand what was just said. LoDeck lays it all out very simply. He likes to make fun of his boring existence, poke fun at his listeners and go off about strippers and/or porno stars in every other song, if only for a brief moment.
"Rude", featuring Atoms Fam's Alaska, showcases LoDeck as part braggart, part dictionary browsing backpacker. Then there are moments like "I Pollute" and "Vacuum Bags" that are musically easy on the ears, but weak lyrically. LoDeck has a tendency to cross the line between wit and inane mental diarrhea that he feels inclined to share with the group. A perfect example of this is the last track on Bash It, "Enter Lewd" which is basically a testosterone-laden journal entry put to music. It's a bit of a tragedy that LoDeck couldn't use his sardonic humor and witticisms to make a better record -- but there's always hope for progress on his sophomore effort.