Busdriver belongs to the rapid-firing, über-caffeinated slam-poet school of MCing. While such diarrhetic verbalizing can be numbing, the L.A. artist's verses prove consistently fascinating, mainly because they're witty and well-detailed, with a cockeyed surrealism. Much of Fear of a Black Tangent concerns the ridiculousness of the hip-hop milieu -- not a new topic by any means, but Busdriver separates himself from his peers by carving up all involved, from indie snobs who "dress like Russian spies" to rap stars who die from bungee jumping rather than bullets to the purist MCs who sell out for girls with "good snatch." All this fancy wordplay would be nothing but grandstanding without the vivid backing tracks. Provided by the likes of Danger Mouse, Daedelus, and Paris Zex, the spastic sound beds reverberate with Latin guitar riffs, wistful jazzy horns, giddy piano loops, and, in the most bizarre moment, a tweaked Joan Baez vocal sample. While Busdriver's cadence may take some getting used to, eventually there's nothing to fear from this black tangent.
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