You can be forgiven for not knowing an indie rapper’s extended discography, with most rappers back catalogs existing solely on CDBaby and Soundclick to be ignored until some intrepid blogger needs new entries for a slow news week’s “LOL Worst Rap Album Art Ever!” post. A cursory listen to Fresh Coast MC and Grindtime/KOTD Fresh Coast battler Tantrum’s latest release, Backlash, and you can tell he’s got a drive to break precedent and get noticed.
Luckily for him, he’s got a few notable things going for him. One, he’s an Asian-American MC, a group so minute that Jackie Chain and Mike Shinoda are the biggest representatives to date. Second he barely, if at all, curses on the album, but it’s oddly so natural that you don’t really notice it. This isn’t some Will Smith tactic, but seemingly a paean to the idea that swears are just crutches for more effective speech. The third thing is, this dude can rap. If there’s anything about a relatively clean Asian-American MC from Cali who raps about rap that bothers you, the skill and hunger that he spits with should def be enough to inspire a second look.
Tantrum’s name is pretty spot-on. Dude sounds intense and annoyed on most of the LP’s tracks, but it fits his consistent criticisms of different aspects of rappers and the industry, skewering “inferior” rappers for wasting opportunities, being too image-oriented and more over very West Coast production (simple drums with a knock, clean engineering, two-steps). The best parallels you could draw to the feel of the album is a West Coast KRS-ONE or hip-hop with the same ethos of hard-work, positiveness and besting you competitors trafficked by many modern hardcore bands. It’s Cali rap in a inspirational vein, with many of the tracks featuring the sort of squealing 80′s guitar and triumphant vocal samples that constantly seem to announce the arrival of someone importance in exaggerated slow-motion. Nearly a third of that sound is architected by West Coast beatsmith Chase Moore, and the LP also features guest verses from fellow battle vets Pariah and Okwerdz.
Need some A/V supplement? Check below for the album stream proper and a clip of Tantrum’s infamous million-view battle against Dumbfoundead.