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Radioinactive and Antimc - Free Kamal

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Artist: Radioinactive and Antimc

Album: Free Kamal

Label: Mush

Review date: Aug. 5, 2004


Kamal Humphrey, a.k.a. Radioinactive, is unlike any rapper youíve heard before. He could be described in patchwork as an amalgam of MC Paul Barmanís nasal voice and Twista's speedy delivery with an Antipop disregard for forming actual rhymes. Heís also anti-materialistic. And thinks you should climb more trees. And has a looong lyric sheet.

Those initially off-put by Radioinactive's stream-of-consciousness, sometimes embarrassingly positive flow ("Befriend a tree / Write poetry / Cook from scratch / Be playful") have nothing to fear. The real story behind Free Kamal is the beats. Antimc's tracks, on which he plays everything from bass to glockenspiel, are eclectic - but never forced - experiments in hip hop. Sunshine samba? Cue "With Light Within," a gorgeous jingle that hands the hook to guest vocalist Nikko. Kettledrums and kalimba? Try "Citrus," which keeps these odd sounds bursting erratically in and out, a nice elastic touch for a genre often dependent on rigid loops.

The choruses on Free Kamal, however, don't always benefit from elasticity. From "Running With Scissors": "When you put your best foot forward Iím against it / Itís the evil Gila monster with an indigestion instrument / Leaves each and every one of us constipated / Pass the loaf around and watch everybody taste it". And that's not anywhere near the longest.

Radioinactiveís flow can at times sound refreshingly unique, but there are others when he resembles a freestyling L. Ron Hubbard. KRS-One may have tried Edutainment, but he never actually told the audience to go to summer school. Humphrey's at his best when sticks to spitting ridiculous verbage at the speed of thought, like on "Running With Scissors": "Iíve come to pay homage to those in blue bonnets who use economics / Both you and Adonis / Who make gin and tonics and dirty martinis and promise each other warm weather and human leather seat covers." Itís less convincing when he asks us to cut up our credit cards.

Despite Humphrey's penchant for pedantics, Free Kamal succeeds more than it fails. Intelligent and fun, itís a good record to listen to with a cool glass of lemonade. And a dictionary.

By Josh Drimmer

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