On their latest effort, "Future Primitive Foot Prints," San Diego natives Stuntdouble (rapper) and Mr. Henshaw (producer) wade, knee deep, through an album that's heavy on aggression, wit and percussion. With a liberal sense of what's right, Stuntdouble is focused and clear-eyed in his social critiques -- lined with just enough personality as to not come off stiff. As a result, "Foot Prints" is a progressive-minded rap album served atop dusty, smothering, suffocating beats.
On the testosterone-driven opener, "Take It Or Leave It," Stuntdouble declares, "All I got's my balls and my bondage." Simple and to the point, it's a cold introduction, one that's buoyed by Henshaw's dystopian drums. Relentlessly knocking up against a synth line that sounds like an overhead air raid siren, it signals 'game on' but what's most impressive is the way Stuntdouble maintains his alpha dog-ness without sounding angry or better yet, like an a--hole.
He does loosen the reigns a bit though and on "Trick Question," he trades lines with Unite One in a two-man back-and-forth that's surprisingly lighthearted. Riffing about swatting horse flies and emo rappers in cutoff capris, all while asking: "How many rappers does it take to fall the f--- off?" They sound earnest enough, admitting, "it's not a joke," but they do show their dry wit and sense of humor after insisting, "it is a trick question."
But it's on tracks like, "Leave No Marks" and "Torture" that showcase Stuntdouble in all his contrarian glory. The former a firsthand account of a United States soldier waterboarding a prisoner of war, the latter a stern commentary on American policy and the White House-approved use of torture. These are heady concepts and as a result are the album's most developed songs. They're also the most challenging, with subject matter that's at best, unsettling -- and at worse, upsetting.
There's something in those moments though and behind the provocative lines and uneasiness are some incredibly well thought-out and articulated arguments. No matter for or against, Stuntdouble's ability to clearly state his point of view makes for not only brutally honest lyrics but also exposes some pretty interesting ideas as well.
It all helps to keep "Future Primitive Foot Prints" balanced as an album that's heavy on content but also one that's big on charisma; where rap lines and beats are sharp, and articulated -- even if heavy-handed and forceful at times.
As a result, the record has a certain abrasive charm. Not because its view points are particularly agreeable but because that's where the energy is -- and where Stuntdouble and Mr. Henshaw are at their best.