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Blueprint - Chamber Music

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Artist: Blueprint

Album: Chamber Music

Label: Weightless

Review date: Apr. 20, 2005

Blueprint has always shown promise in small doses. He's not a particularly noteworthy rapper (starring opposite Rjd2 in the Soul Position project doesn't do him any favors either), but he's been known to shine from time to time. He's nothing special as a producer either, but he has good instincts and an ear for mood and dynamic. More often than not his work is passable, and occasionally it's pretty strong (as in the case of "Alchemy," from Aesop Rock's Daylight EP, on which he both produces and rhymes).

But when he's bad, he's pretty bad (see his turn in "Zenith" from last year's Vast Aire solo album, and pretty much all of Soul Position's Unlimited EP). On the whole he's something of a bystander: in some of the right places at some of the right times, but almost never responsible for any miracles.

He doesn't embarrass himself too much on Chamber Music, his debut as a producer, but he doesn't do a whole lot to garner praise, either. It's to his credit that he keeps quiet for the most part; apart from his rap about his creative process on "Mission Statement," which is altogether harmless even if his boasts are characteristically disproportionate to his talent ("It ain't about me being better than you / It's about me doing the job God sent me to do"), he outsources the MC tracks to more qualified friends and sticks to vaguely moody instrumentals the rest of the time.

"Small World, Big Plans" might be the album's best track, with a bouncy synth beat and a solid rap from Vast Aire, but Print's compulsion to pop up during the hilariously bad chorus ("Small world / Big Plans / Save the whales / Recycle cans") robs the song of a certain class. Elsewhere Ace Rock rhymes, predictably nonsensically, for about a minute and a half in "Encounter" and Illogic gets metaphysical on "Sacrifice," but nothing revelatory happens.

The biggest problem is that Print's instrumentals are generally boring. It's easy enough to get past when someone is rapping, but tracks like "Mr. Hyde" and the initially promising "Starch" are quick to stagnate. Some use vocal samples to compensate, which usually only makes things worse ("Behave Yourself" recycles an infernally annoying woman drawling "Why can't you behave?"). He uses the organ frequently, to good effect, and drops in the occasional sitar or trumpet atop mostly dull beats, but most of it goes on too long without significant development.

Some tracks, alternatively, are just plain perplexing: particularly "Hot Sex," in which he, uh, "samples" four minutes of a ribald Richard Pryor routine and then drops in some graphic moaning, all with minimal musical accompaniment. Or the intro, in which an Ohio radio DJ introduces the album on air as "some of [Blueprint's] more experimental instrumental stuff," prompting someone to ask testily, "Is that like the 36 Chambers, or what?" (This is followed by a second or two of nervous laughter.) All that follows is either sportingly anonymous or actively bad, but never is it good enough to bring Blueprint much closer to realizing those scattered glimpses of potential. For as meticulous as he professes to be in his "Mission Statement," he assembles a pretty careless-sounding and unfortunately expendable record.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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