Many people will dislike Busdriver’s unique flow, but one thing that can’t be denied is that when the L.A. native’s on the mike, it’s never a dull moment. After his under-underground 2002 debut, Temporary Forever, gained recognition for his unique style, Busdriver hooked up last year with Daedelus and Radioinactive for The Weather, a project that was just as enjoyable, even if it was what it seemed: a bunch of talented guys screwing around.
Cosmic Cleavage is jump up musically from his debut, but it continues where the jazz soloist of emcees left off with his early records. Working with Daddy Kev to create some of the best jazz hip-hop beats in a while and using the deck talents of legend-in-waiting D-Styles of the defunct Invisible Skratch Piklz, Busdriver runs all over the scales, raising and lowering his modulation and slurring, spitting and running through couplets without so much as a breath. It’s an enviable performance, and while the playfulness of his voice might be mistaken as novelty by some, listeners that dig the weirder side of hip-hop will be impressed.
The title track is the template for the rest of the record, both musically and lyrically. Old ragtime horns give way to a bouncingly drunk drum beat and Busdriver’s sexual musings. The record is so unapologetically immature in its sex references (at one point this "fuck buddy of the universe" tries to get more of "that hairy pink thing") that you can’t fault it for the sophomoric humor.
"Stingey Lover," "Unnecessary Thinking" and "She-Hulk Dehorning the Illusionist" continue that tradition. But in contrast to some of the dry performances of today — where even the brilliant flows MF Doom provides on the Madvillain record have a healthy dose of detachment — it’s refreshing to hear such a devoted (and accomplished) delivery. What Busdriver is saying doesn’t matter nearly as much as what he sounds like, particularly up against the album’s excellent production. Put the best songs on the album next to Coltrane or Gangstarr on your next mix: it will hold up equally well in both cases.
But even if the music itself is excellent, the record’s negatives are too important to ignore. Cosmic Cleavage is only thirty minutes long, and when one track, the excellent abstract finale "Staring at the Sun," takes up six and a half minutes, it’s a questionable length for an LP. And his timing is off. Cosmic Cleavage is a solid disc, but placed next to recent releases like Murs, Madvillain, Cee-Lo and the somewhat similar performance Lyrics Born gave on his debut last year, the record doesn’t measure up in almost every way.
Still, this has been an excellent year for hip-hop, and the fact that this worthy record isn’t near the top of the pack is a good indication of that. Also, bonus points for the Seinfeld sample at the end: "Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun."