Cata9tales - A Chameleon's Dream

A Chameleon's Dream opens with the track "Kaboombox," which immediately brings Young MC's "Bust a Move" to mind. Sure, that's an old school reference; but hearkening back to the old school appears to be something Cata9tales, a Virginia hip-hop duo, is intentionally going for. Comprised of vocalist Berkley Priest and sound master, Kreator, this EP is smart and musically memorable, from start to finish.

It's difficult to find one highlight because so much of this EP is so good. However, "What a Day (Shooting Stars)," which appears to address those living hard luck lives, is a real winner. There's a line from Priest where he raps, "She knew all the crackheads/She called 'em rock stars" which especially stands out. It's one creative/tragic metaphor for these drug addicts.

While hip hop is this act's primary style, one titled "Gettotron" also smartly incorporates electronic elements. It finds Priest rapping rapidly, the way the rap pioneers used to do it in the early days. However, the way Cata9tales also includes semi-industrial sounds in this mix, brings Faith No More to mind quite positively.

It turns out Cata9tales is also comprised of two Christians. You have to be suspicious that faith is involved somehow whenever you hear rap music that doesn't include a whole lot of cussing. It's a sad commentary of the rap world to have to say that. Nevertheless, it seems as though rappers are afraid they won't be taken seriously if they don't also saturate their music with profanity. Granted, there are a few examples of salty language on this release � be forewarned parents and those with more sensitive ears � yet these bad language instances are appropriate for the song's subject matter. In other words, it's not just cussing for the sake of cussing, which is too often the case in contemporary music.

Lyrically, it's difficult to take this all in with just a few listens. Priest spits out so many great lines, so fast, it's a little like missing dialogue in a movie. Sure, you may get the gist of what the film is about; but it's a little frustrating missing good lines. The good thing about music over movies, though, is you can � and should � listen again and again.

Kreator also deserves praise for creating some mighty fine beats and grooves for this work. Many of these tracks point back to the soul music heyday of the '60s and '70s. And in its best moments, this EP has the dead serious tone of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Perhaps a better description is Marvin Gaye, as filtered through Massive Attack, with a modern spin put on it for good measure. Whatever the case, it sounds both retro and contemporary at the same time, and that's never a bad thing.

This disc closes with the autobiographical title track. Over a droning groove, with spoken word drop �ins and sporadic soulful female vocals, Priest tells the Cata9tales story with matter-of-fact honesty. It really helps the listener understand how Cata9tales got to be the way it is, so it may not be a bad idea to listen to the last track first.

The CD begins with the spoken word drop-in, "Gentlemen, let's broaden our minds." And in a rare case of true advertising (as opposed to the false variety), Cata9tales then proceed to use music to expand the intelligence of listeners. There just not nearly enough rap artists like KRS-One; the sort that use music as an educationally entertaining tool, instead of a cynical path for the sole purpose of making paper. The world needs Cata9tales, right now!

Cata9tales - A Chameleon's Dream

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