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Bumblebeez 81 - The Printz
By Mark Hensch

Bumblebeez 81 - The Printz
Label: Universal
Rating: 

In a world where most mainstream rock is quickly being processed to please the stereotype of the day, and in a world where most mainstream rap has been doing the same thing for several years, it is a rarity that there is any sense of unity between either genre or life-long fans of either as well. Bumblebeez 81 not only promotes said unity, they make it freaking work for fans of any genre of music, let alone just rap or rock.

The phrase "rap-rock" is basically either an oxymoron or an overused and wrongly-applied cliche'. Most rap rock bands have no real knowledge of rap, and few bands can seamlessly mix the two into a coherent and/or entertaining mix at any time. Bumblebeez changes this notion in a frightening way. Picture a cocky, sassy, and stuck up White Stripes backed by a freestyling white girl and the occasional hip/trip hop or electronica beats. In easier terms, its garage rock hip hop. It's the Von Beasties (The Von Bondies meets the Beastie Boys). It's insanely fun.

"Ouno" is an instrumental beat set that fades in with some effects and a kicking trip-hop beat that could make anyone toe tap like mad. "Step Back" rolls in with some "childish" background vocals and a bass line before a steady rap beat is drummed out and the band's frontman does the cocky rapped lyrics that will be a band trademark for listeners by this album's ends. A static and fuzzed out guitar interlude half way through with some more "hopping beats" closes this song nicely. "I Come With Water" fingerpicks some folksy chords and notes over another constant drum beat and some weird group vocals over the chorus. "Let's Go" kicks in with a jamming guitar part and the band lets a collective yowl as the drums kick up.

The vocals on this song are fun, chaotic, and totally razor sharp. Lazer effects and drum interludes add even more punch to this awesome track.

"Microphone Diseases" starts with an effects heavy freestyle by resident freestyler Vila. This chick knows how to rap, and the trip hop beats that fade into a slow, spacey guitar chorus, and then back again is great. Vila's raps actually are some of the strongest part of this odd gem of a CD, and this track shows that to the fullest. The band's strange logic shapes itself further by combining the chorus guitars and the trip hop beats together for a crazy mix interlude, and then a final freestyle from Vila ends things on a high note. "Get Dressed" is a bouncing hydraulics car down the street at 3 A.M. kind of song. It's catchy chorus is flaked with a subtle guitar flourish that is so fuzzy you can feel the static from all the friction. The bass lines aren't bad either. "Pony Ride" is a song that would fit into the catalog of Rancid/Blink-182 side project The Transplants, yet its handclap beats and sing alongs give it a life of its own. "Bambino" drops like a bomb into your cerebral cortex with a drum roll and some serious mixing and scratching. A shriek from one of the members and group "Woo-hoos!" as freestyle raps are tossed like candy at a parade come at you from all angles and this song is the bomb. It's sinister Vila freestyle near the end over wailing police sirens is possibly the best on the entire CD. "Brooklyn" starts in with "city-scape" sound-effects and a chorus so Beastie Boys ("I left my baby in Brooklyn) it's mind-blowing. The group trades freestyles, yells, shout-outs, and lord knows what else in this kicking song. "Vila Attack" grinds in with guitars and bass and beats that are mad. Vila's rhymes are satirical, mocking, funny, entertaining, and genius to a level I didn't know any rapper was capable of. "Vampires" festers with some feedback and distorted, sinister vocals before the fun begins with a determined rap/rock fusion laden with electronica experiments gone totally (and not in a bad way) awry. "Rappa" is Vila's "The Real Slim Shady." It's a focused, determined, and hard-edged song about making it as a rapper, that through Vila's delivery and vocal prowess, does not even remotely convey arrogance. It's got an awesome trip hop beat and satirical lyrics that are both thought-provoking and funny. "Pink Fairy Floss" is a weird rap rock jam. "Come Ova" has got some awesome bass lines and is almost balladesque at points.

I generally hate rap, or anything that sounds even similar to it. Maybe I have lost my blooming mind (there wasn't much to lose in the first place), or maybe this is the 3rd plague in the Apocalypse coming true. Bumblebeez 81 is a great listen, and I enjoyed all its parts, the electronica, the garage rock, the rap, in equal measures. This CD is expansive, funky, new, and grooving. It's wide variety of styles will appeal to various music fans, and apparently, many bands agree with me. Bumblebeez has toured with bands like Radiohead or rap groups like N.E.R.D. in almost equal amounts, and the reason is clear. If you like rock, but have a guilty secret in terms of liking rap, this is a great album to bridge that ever widening middle ground. If you are a rap fan who hates rock, see that some bands have respect for both genres. All in all, this is a fun CD that isn't overly political, pissed off, or processed. And with most artists in all genres going one of those three ways, I personally think that that's a good thing.
 

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