Atrist: Count Bass D
One of the less-heralded heroes of the hip-hop underground, the count has been at it since the early nineties, pushing boundaries and conventions, challenging heads and doing his own damned thing.
On Act Your Waist Size, the count tows a line between his chopped minute-long sketches and longer, more traditional song structures. From the shuffled Super-Mario instrumental “Lunchroom Table Ensemble” to the funk-inflected reconsideration of the traditional hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” the Nashville producer, emcee and chanteur brings a bagful of surprises to the record.
Amongst the cascading piano and tinny drums of “Internationally Known,” Bass D claims to be the “Casio CZ-101 head honcho.” This is probably my favorite invocation of a producer's tool since Beck bragged sexually that he was “bangin like an 808.” The playfulness abounds. “Brasilian Landing Strip” brings a damning bizarro-world vibe, and “IMEANROC&RON” flips the 1984 moonlighting style that dominates Doom's playbook.
“Softly & Tenderly” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” turn a new page in the ghetto-gospel hymnal heretofore helmed by Snoop Dogg and Skillz' “Pastor Skillz.” It is an unlikely fusion that undeniably works. The vibe should be good for Sunday afternoons in a Cadillac. Another entry in the ghetto-gospel category is “Junkies (hangin out at the store),” in which the count is offered bootleg gospel CDs. He refuses the junkie (“I don't play around with God or his business”), but buys a TV for fifty bucks (“Now I'm watching Jerry on the big screen.”)
Damn, if that ain't fun enough, there's the ethereal cloudiness of “Pot / Liquor” and a heavy fusion nod to the late great Dilla on “Case o' Dilla.” (Side note: if someone could let me know which Weather Report sample is being flipped here, I'd be grateful. The loop is keeping me up at night.)
I can't think of a solid reason to miss out on this record. It's a dynamic opus with moments of fog, clarity, humor, struggle and so forth. The variety of production is simply astounding. If Act Your Waist Size doesn't wind up in the short-list of “best hip-hop record of 2006,” it will certainly find its niche – snugly reigning – as the most slept upon hip-hop record of 2006.