June 11, 2008

CD Review: The Dirtball - Crook County

A metal fan reviewing a hip hop album? Scary isn't it? I know, it doesn't happen too often, but it does. This is one of those journeys to the other side. What is even more rare than this hip hop excursions is seeing two reviews of the same artist, but that is exactly what is happening here. Plus, if you count his involvement with the SubNoize Souljaz, this is the third time I have reviewed him. The artist in question is Oregon native The Dirtball, and the album is his third release called Crook County. What is the down and dirty with The Dirtball? Well, the short answer is: Crook County is a pretty good collection of tunes.

Quite frankly,I am surprised I wrote that opening. It was a little over a year ago that I reviewed his last album, Raptillion, an album that left me less than impressed. Honestly, while I did not completely hate that album, I cannot say that I have had any interest in revisiting it since I wrote the review. On the other hand, the Suburban Noize Records collaboration, SubNoize Souljaz (featuring Dirtball, Judge D, and KMK members Daddy X and Johnny Richter), has had the occasional revisit. With the release of Crook County, it appears that The Dirtball will, at the very least, get a few tracks into the rotation.

The first thing that stands out about The Dirtball (real name David Alexander) is his flow. The guy is smooth, his style employs a clean voice without a hint of growl. Next up is his speed, he can be very quick, and even when the speed ratchets up his annunciation is there, not a single syllable is slurred. Compared to the other, albeit limited, hip hop I listen to, he is possibly the smoothest clean style I've listened to.

As for the beats? They have improved since the last album. They are comprised of some standard sounding beats, some live drums and rock style sounds, and blend together nicely in a sound that seems relatively fresh.

What a difference a year makes. A year of tours, a years worth more experience, and a years time to work on your skills. The passage of time has certainly not been wasted by The Dirtball. This album is a step in the right direction. It is not perfect by any stretch, but just the fact that it is an improvement over Raptillion says something. As an artist he is moving in the right direction.

Not every song on here is a winner. Some tracks just fall flat on my ears. Among the ones I skip are "Pitspit," "Just a Friend (feat. Lady Love)," and "Phantom Power." There are others that are middling, but don't really inspire the quick skippage.

On the other hand, there are a bunch of cuts that are destined to make their way to an iPod mix. Among the tracks to focus on are "Mushroom Cloud (feat. Daddy X)," "Nightshade (feat. CeeKay)," "Moonshine Rhyme," "Tried Trued + Tested (feat. Boondox)," and possibly my favorite cut on the whole album, "Mora Kyrkogarden."

Bottomline. Not a classic by any stretch, but definitely worth spending some time with. I do enjoy a good beat and fresh flow. I also like encountering artists that are dedicated to their craft and are obviously seen to be growing from one release to the next.



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