Genres: hip hop
SJ the Wordburglar is just another in the long line of nerdy
white rappers who faces the endless question of what exactly to say on
his tracks. With no dramatic autobiography to draw from, or any overt
political message, options are limited, and they usually tend to focus
around a clever self-deprecation.
Hip-hop simply isn’t the medium for self-deprecation, and
Wordburglar realizes this; making no amends for his lack of cred
while constantly hyping the fact that he is a pleasantly cheeky rhymer.
Almost all of the songs on this album are straight displays of his
lyrical wit, and generally this works. However, at 20 tracks the
one-note-ness of the album wears a bit thin, to the point where he
re-uses similes (“I’m hot like... a hot girl’s ass in a bikini/people
who wear lots of layers/etc.”) However, even with this occasional
lyrical monotony, he can catch you off guard (What’s higher than
two... three! And who’s flyer than you... lots of people!)
Wordburglar’s quick punchlines are complemented well by his
crisp, nasal delivery. He flows uncannily well in a sub-genre often
populated by rappers trying too hard to spit tongue twisters – in
other words, he doesn’t go out of his way to impress with his flow,
and as a result doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy to notice this on “Fun
is Number One (Eat a Parrot)”, where featured MC Selfhelp does
his best Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony impression and is followed by
SJ, who, having admitted he can’t sing earlier on the album,
sticks with his tight, toneless flow to great success.
The production on Burglaritis, a nice mix of cartoonish and
conventional beats, complements Wordburglar’s goofy delivery
well in small doses – meaning that the production is good but
monotonous. On track 6, “Sayin’ Raps”, Wordburglar asks the
Beatmason to “bring the horns back,” but even by then we’re sick
of the horns. All this is coming from a guy who usually loves horns in
hip-hop songs. But this is way too much, to the point that even I
can’t listen to more than 10 songs at once.
Ultimately Burglaritis is a great compilation of singles;
full of songs which will automatically impress. They’re all well-made
and clever but unfortunately don’t fit together into a coherent album.
But the individual songs are all so fresh that it’s hard to really
knock the album for not being an album. Stick a Wordburglar
song on a mix sometime (preferably the standout “Eight Rappers & the
Mason”) and you will basically double its cleverness content.
Wordburglar may be a one-trick pony, but he pulls that trick off
pretty gosh darn well.
Engelbert K. Mutton
[Vitals: 20 tracks, distributed by
released Aug 8 2006]