If the opening skit “What‘s Wrong“ from Act Your Waist Size is any indication, Nashville–based emcee/producer Count Bass D has a chip on his shoulder. The raving two-minute speech may be sampled, but best believe this is an allegory to his frustrations with the music business. And with good reason. After dropping cult classics such as 1995’s Pre-Life Crisis and 2002’s Dwight Spitz, the financial success and acclaim that his indie hip-hop peers have garnered has eluded Count. Now, after having signed with indie hip-hop giant Fatbeats earlier this year, he may have found the industry backing to match his talent. Unfortunately, Act Your Waist Size only provides fleeting glimpses into Count’s slept-on genius.
Count Bass wastes no time showcasing his swagger on the opener and twelve-inch “Internationally Known.“ Backed by a vibrant piano loop, Count shows us why he is one of the “best spitters behind the boards” before ending on a shout out to J Swift of Pharcyde. It’s an aggressive, lively and candid track that beautifully proves his point. To be sure, Count displays a clever knack for rearranging figures of speech and flipping idioms on their backs. Lines like “Don’t feed the mouth that bites you” and “She took my weakness for kindness, my vices for niceness” keep listeners on their toes. His talent behind the boards is displayed on the instrumental “IMEANROCKRON,” where Transformers meets ‘80s synth pop and the playful “Lunchroom Table Ensemble.” What’s more, the emcee/producer moonlights as a crooner (a la Count’s Art for Sale EP) on the spiritual “Softly & Tenderly” and the brooding “Leaning on the Everlasting.“ Though Count may lack the pipes, it is his ability to exude a raw honesty (dare I say soul?) that makes these tracks work.
The album isn’t without its missteps. “Brazilian Landing Strip,” an otherwise hypnotic beat driven by a slowed vocal sample and trigger-happy strings, feels marred by Count’s boasting on the final verse that ends on an emphatic “Count Bass, bitch!” By the time “No Comp” comes on toward the end of this twenty-track album, the braggadocio feels tired. “Junkies” is a skillfully crafted spaced–out track that is bogged down by a message that borders on preachy, and the unrelenting whir of the sirens on “Case O Dilla” and the skeezed–out synth on “Trading Whore Stories” are damn near a chore to listen to. What’s more, Count’s off–the–cuff and disjointed flows can grow frustrating to the point where the otherwise lackluster guest verse from Kid Captain Coolout on “Pot/Liquor” becomes a welcomed change of pace.
In the end, Act Your Waist Size fails to hit the consistent strides prevalent in Count’s previous works. His ticket to claim his just due will have to wait for the classic those familiar with his work know he is capable of delivering.