Busdriver doesn’t cover any Public Enemy on his follow-up to last year’s Cosmic Cleavage, but the album’s title may hint at otherwise. Fear of a Black Tangent has a lengthy roster of guest emcees and producers, but the album generally centers on only one concept: Busdriver. The Los Angeles native writes incessantly about himself — it’s a time-tested hip-hop technique — but along the way he bangs also out valuable viewpoints and makes worthy commentary on the state of the underground.
Busdriver is a member of the Project Blowed crew and a busy collaborator with a cast of fellow L.A. underground emcees. His 2002 solo effort, Temporary Forever, garnered much critical acclaim and turned even more heads onto his unique flow. He worked alongside eccentric beat-maker Daedelus and emcee Radioinactive on 2003’s The Weather. And after putting out Cosmic Cleavage on Big Dada last year, he wasted little time compiling another collection of laser-quick rhymes and star-studded production.
Fear of a Black Tangent is a running concept record that takes jabs at the pitfalls of the hip-hop scene and the way way underground hip-hop scene. Busdriver is critical of all areas. In “Map Your Psyche,” he and Freestyle Fellowship’s Abstract Rude rail on the “warped things” emcees are willing to do to get “tour support” and “Source awards.”
Guests are rampant on Fear, and the production creds go to Thavius Beck, Daedelus, Omid, Invisible Scratch Picklz’ D-Styles and others. There’s even a Prefuse 73 remix on here. But Busdriver’s style lends itself to an underground purist. He’s quick and occasionally quite crass in his offerings, and only those who nod their heads to weirdness will appreciate it. But to not appreciate this man’s speed, wit and pop-culture-allusion-heavy verses is shortsighted. He is unlike most others.