Music News


When Kamal "Radioinactive" de Iruretagoyena lets loose with a compressed rush of goobledygook here — see "Refrigerator" or "Trouble" — it's difficult to understand why this Los Angeles-based MC/producer hasn't yet managed to break out of the backpacker scene that's home to the anti-con contingent and its malcontented fellow travelers. Peep the superhuman (and more mortal) rhyme streams, though, and Radioinactive's quagmire becomes crystal clear: The man is simply too grad-student abstract and too far removed from mainstream hip-hop's bacchanal of street weight, bling, beef, and bitches to fit in with the chart hogs. Soundtrack has no axes to grind or questions of conscience to posit — it's just Radioinactive tooling about in his cranium, coyly self-censoring and playing with word pies as though he were the only rapper on Earth. "Tarantulas" feeds stadium-guitar blare between two turntables, DJ scratches joining fuzzy drums as a supplemental rhythm while our host waxes homesick and a wee bit paranoid. Middle Eastern sphinx riffs power "Personality Theft," a fly-strip-catchy device sporting a Gertrude Stein reference that may condemn our president if you listen hard enough. "When the ish hits the fan in the underground lair/Remain cooler than a refrigerator/Verbal digicam runs and you get the picture/Don't get your hand stuck in my escalator," he counsels at one point, and like every other rhyme here, it's so daffily dope that it doesn't much matter if he's boasting or warning.

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Ray Cummings