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Awol One
AWOL ONE
(Image)

At times, this purported act of self-definition gets subsumed by the dissonant, gnashing, angular sound thatís become the soundtrack of underground white-boy hip-hop nerds everywhere. My guess is that this Southern Cali rapper owes that sound to his regular tour partners in the Def Jux and Mush Records camps. More than that, though, AWOL One suggests his own deeper local lineage, one that outsiders might be surprised theyíve never heard merged with hip-hop before: the indolent, singsong, vaguely Mexican-American dialect of Cali stoner/surfer/skateboard culture. In those moments, the rapperís patter shares more with a Cheech and Chong skit or a Suicidal Tendencies monologue than with any standard notion of hip-hop "flow." And on the sweetest tracks, it has the effect of generating a real Spicoli-like charm ó "Lifeís a casino that donít have chips/[pause] A record that always skips," or "If I had a heart it would beat like this/If I had a brain it would think Iím stupid." But, yes, there are also occasions when itís just as well that the gnashing, angular stuff drowns out his off-key drone. And even thatís sort of fitting, yíknow, dude?

BY FRANKLIN SOULTS


Issue Date: September 3 - 9, 2004
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