Project Blowed emcee and 4/29 alumnus, Busdriver (Regan Farquhar), can easily release projects in back to back years and not fall off. His conscious, dizzying rhyme-delivery and alternative production require little maintenance because they pack in much inquisitive thought and fresh, independent music. His 2014 album Perfect Hair was a triumphant return to his original form, and he has followed it up with a sound mixtape this year, Thumbs (Nov 6). Basically, the smart, quick spitter from Los Angeles provides more rich lyricism and varying indie music throughout the mixtape with a few new things he’s been itching to get off his chest.
After stating, “music doesn’t make money, music makes men make money” and dissing the American government’s public NSA surveillance program in “Absolutions in the Hottentot Supercluster,” Busdriver immediately begins discussing suspicions of a widespread suppression of black people, and the trend continues sporadically throughout the album. Like before, Busdriver’s style tends to get in the way of his messages, meting out a blow to Thumbs‘ communicative ability while still retaining its core quality. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he connects best when he slows down like at the end of “Worlds to Run” with “when you’re deep in the wrong, there’s only so much truth you can keep in your jaw” or in “Ministry of the Torture Couch” with the simple line, “f*ck a cop.”
In Thumbs, Busdriver focuses on the plight of black people and anarchical truth-speaking more than before. He is both kooky and critically conscious, but here, he is more the latter than the former. Similarly the music takes on a two type diversity as well, being either busy and coldly mechanized or easygoing and organically musical and natural, though all the while keeping a consistent beat. Synth fans will be able to jam out to “Black Labor”‘s rhythmic, electronic clusterf*ck and to the frantic electro mashup in “Great Spooks of Enormous Strength.” Smooth listening fans, on the other hand, will find serenity in the cool, softened sounds of “Much,” “Worlds to Run” and “Species of Property.”
Thumbs benefits from being traditional Busdriver and is made interesting yet predictable through its Afrocentrism. Still, the vocal and musical quality is above the field as usual for Driver, and yes, he does begin a studious exploration of racism against blacks without creating bonafide agitprop. Also, don’t forget to peep the cool guest spots by Anderson Paak, the Hieroglyphics’ Del The Funky Homosapien, Jeremiah Jae and others. Likewise, the production list credits a long cast of producers who provide a tremendous amount of symphonic uniqueness.