Monday, April 30, 2007

Vastly Underrated Albums, vol. 1: Dangerdoom, "The Mouse and the Mask"

I've got a lot of music. Not as much as my sister, but still plenty - I believe iTunes can play for almost a month straight without repeating.

In a situation like that, stuff can fall through the cracks, get forgotten in the sands of time, and find its way out of the rotation. This is why I'm starting up this occasional series: to categorize, remember and promote albums that I find in my music library where I've completely forgotten about their greatness. We're not talking all-time greats, but underrated or forgotten.

The first of these is Dangerdoom's "The Mouse and the Mask," one interesting-as-hell situation and album. Producer Dangermouse (The Gray Album, Gorillaz - Demon Days, Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere) is on the boards, MF Doom (he of a thousand names and side projects, including MM FOOD - a rap box set all about food) is spitting in the mic, and such acts as Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah and Cee-Lo Green (the other half of Gnarls Barkley) provide guest appearances, and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim shows provide the aesthetic idea.

While some of the songs are themed around shows ("A.T.H.F." should be the new theme song for that show, "Space Ho's" is probably my favorite on the whole disc), the definition of 'theme' is rather loose. Sometimes it's close to the show's theme, sometimes it's incredibly loose. Soundbites and guest appearances by cartoon character voices (namely Master Shake from ATHF) add character, but never irritate. Okay, after more than a few listens Shake's end-of-song skits get old, but it's never overbearing.

Plus, importantly, it never takes away from MF Doom - who has *far* too many skills - and doesn't limit Dangermouse's superb production skills. Doom is something of a nerdy rapper anyways (he and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien are too cool and diverse to be called "nerdcore" and lumped in with mc chris or MC Frontalot) so the topics aren't a stretch, and Dangermouse cooks up a ton of funky beats with what he's given. Mouse is one of a few people I can actually point to and say "I love this guy's production, and no matter who's singing or rapping I'll listen."

so, if you have this album too, dust it off and give it a spin; otherwise, acquire it in whatever way you usually acquire music and you won't be disappointed. Somewhat irreverent and offbeat rapping with some funky, solid beats is never a bad combination; cartoon aural aesthetic is always welcomed too. Combine that all and it's a good time.

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