“Now you can talk about more pressing issues/ Like what’s up with the state of hip-hop,” Busdriver begins on the self-produced “Bliss Point”, off of his tenth LP, Perfect Hair. But while other rappers may be fighting over who claims the throne, or who’s in control, the man born Regan Farquhar has his own unique perspective on the game. “Where exactly is hip-hop going?/ Did hip-hop have breakfast this morning?/ Does hip-hop have exactly the right body type to pull off that outfit?” Busdriver’s rapid rivers are often summed as wordy, literate, even surreal, but that’s doing him a disservice. Wild, insanely ambitious, and a bit inconsistent, Perfect Hair encodes and decodes the ideas, opinions, and deconstructions that can only come from Farquhar’s brain.
The album opens with “Retirement Ode”, Driver listing off the details of exactly how much each element of recording the album cost. “Hi, I’m Regan/ I don’t rap for free/ Since I got a bachelor’s degree,” he adds, playfully jabbing at the assumptions of the conscious rap game. The menacing Jeremiah Jae production on “Ego Death” similarly rips tooth and nail at the brainy image, with Busdriver, Aesop Rock, and Danny Brown running each of their unique styles through the grinder. The track, though, highlights the differences between the three rather than uniting them: Brown ends his verse on a questionable riff about Prodigy and domestic violence, Aesop zooms from poppy milk to Mario pajamas via hell, and Driver spins a whirlwind of lines about racism, intricate emotions, and references to The Price Is Right and Ira Glass.
The album does have its share of absurd, tangled, almost impenetrable lines, nasally sung patches that could definitely be called an acquired taste, and mutated, oddball production that’ll raise more than a few eyebrows. He wants to “Colonize the Moon”, and he’s “so hungry man” he could “eat the rich.” That’s more winked than sincere, but the platonic ideas behind those surreal extensions ring truer here than they have on the last few Busdriver albums. The surreal elements only highlight how surreal the power, race, and class struggles of reality are, making them that much more real.
Essential Tracks: “Bliss Point”, “Retirement Ode”, and “Ego Death”