There are a lot of rappers who have seemingly found out that they can get away with saying nothing of interest if their technique is decent enough -- it's as if their delivery is confident enough and their rhyme schemes are varied enough, they can get by on little more than generic claims to success, contrived shout-outs to their haters, and boasts of saving hip-hop. Oh word? You're saving hip-hop? Excuse me as I slit my wrists with the sharp edges of the 12" Solesides singles that I've now smashed to pieces.
That's why listening to local rapper Marty MacPhly is so refreshing. His latest release, In Advance, covers a lot of familiar territory: getting money, getting women, and smoking weed. But instead of making me want to kill myself, he makes me laugh. Instead of getting by on half-decent technique, he focuses on talking about those familiar topics in interesting, novel ways. And if that doesn't fit neatly into formulaic rhyme schemes, boo freaking hoo.
It sounds like a conscious choice on MacPhly's part to loosen up the flow. On the funky, James Brown-sampling "Hit Me," he opens up, flowing off-rhythm, saying:
No n----s on my radar
This thing must not be on
The flow's way off
I get laid, you get laid-off
Later in the same song, he also says he's "lazy with the flow, got back blisters." So he knows his flow is off-kilter, but that's beside the point. The point is that this dude just said, "I get laid, you get laid-off," which had me bawling out of control with laughter. And his flow has back blisters??? I don't think I've heard anyone brag that their flow has back blisters.
In Advance is rife with moments that make you rewind, like, "Wait, did he just say that?" What's even better is that he doesn't hit you over the head with it. You'll just be listening all innocently, and then all of a sudden, MacPhly creeps up on you and raps, "N----s got black belts, can't break bread," (from "My Bell") and you start cracking up.
The majority of the production belongs to Dave Moss, although two other producers, Bang Digital and Chinky (who I'll assume takes his/her name from being high and not from being Asian), also contribute beats. The beats range from blaxpoitation-type funk ("Hit Me") to synth-heavy bangers ("Hunnids") to in-the-clouds triumph ("Smoke Enuff"). The production remains solid throughout, meshing well with MacPhly without overpowering him.
Besides a couple of duds ("Advanced" and "No Breaks"), my main issue with In Advance is simply that it's not quite as good as his 2010 mixtape-album, Cheers. It lacks the socio-political edge of cuts like "Tailback" and "Cold Sweat," and the hooks aren't as catchy. But if you're looking for an introduction to MacPhly -- or if you're just looking for good hip-hop music -- you could do far worse than In Advance.
Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog sdRAPS.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.