Busdriver, Abstract Rude

Los Angeles rapper Busdriver's rack and pinion elocution corners like an Indy car, reaching speeds that would induce whiplash in his hip-hop peers. He sub-references the pop culture more profusely than Dennis Miller in his heyday, spinning lyrical webs elegant enough to rival Charlotte's barnyard creations, and as dense as Gravity's Rainbow. His backing tracks tend toward jazz-tinged electro-shimmer whose hypnotic vibe is the Vaseline for his synapse-busting patter.

Though obscured by wordplay, Busdriver's politics are as fiery as Chuck D's or Dead Prez's, if more frequently aimed at hypocrites, poseurs and social targets other than the System. This dark edge can be discomfiting and verging on self-hating inasmuch as the disdain falls as frequently on underground rap as the mainstream minstrel show. (His latest, Jhelli Beam, opens with the brash pronouncement "Conscious rap failed us," and later concludes "My job has me cultivating all the white guilt/Dipping Polaroids in rice milk.")

Seemingly born to rap, his father penned the Krush Groove screenplay, and Busdriver apprenticed at Aceyalone's Project Blowed open mic in the mid-'90s while still in his teens. Though his brainy idiosyncrasy may have consigned him to backpacker status, his skills and knowledge are as tight as anyone's.

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