On Young Miss America, his debut full-length as Gold Chains after a series of well-received EPs, Lafata demonstrates how effective this approach can be, but he also reveals its built-in limitations. His prowess with his chosen hardware and software is indisputable: The tracks here are built on a standard booty-bass foundation of digital boom-bap, but nearly every one deviates from form in some ear-catching way, be it a ribbon of electric piano hung over a slithering bass line, a sudden interlude of ye olde music-hall bounce or a menacing blast of those outmoded electric guitars. In "Much Currency Flows," he imports pizzicato disco strings and makes them lean hard into the groove, and for "Nada" he fits an entire Bollywood orchestra pit into his hard drive.
But as a persona, Gold Chains is hard to take for an entire album. Lafata raps about plenty of worthwhile topics throughout America--the importance of community, the dangers of materialism, the omnipresence of sexism--yet his winking delivery and his gravel-gargling flow, so singular in small doses, become as exhausting as Ja Rule in this setting. Lafata's is the same dilemma faced by Prince Paul and Majesticon Mike Ladd on their recent discs: How do you make a point about pointlessness, even if that's your point?