Double Negative Pt. 1 : For Lack Of A Better World
label: dumptruck

producers: avatar

guests: shah, smile-oak, gena olivier.
year of release: 2003
1. Wicked Twisted Games
2. Trouble Sometimes
3. Space
4. J.O.B.
5. Stupid & Selfish
6. 110%
7. Other Shapes
8. Wax Museum
9. Headphones
10. World Above feat. Shah, Smile-Oak
11. Tightrope Walker feat. Gena Olivier
12. Love, Hate & Heartbreak
13. Drunk
14. Everyone's Retarded
15. In A Perfekt World
16. Sacrifice
17. I Belive
As a firm believer in the influence the weather has on a person's character, emotions and mood, I wonder where LA is in Avatar's music. Considering that it never rains in Southern California, there's a distinctive clash between that and this. Avatar sounds like he's forever stuck in June Haze. His music is gritty, it does a science fiction industrialism that he and curiously enough some other LA cats like to do. His music is harsh, it's crude and it's rough around the edges. But why?
Well, when you live in LA, you can easily come across an oil drill or an oil refinery. You can get lost in the huge areas of ugly warehouses, production centers, machines spitting steam and making clonking sounds. The sun might shine in LA, but the smog is thicker. The vegetation might be everywhere, but when the sun bakes the grass, it dies in beige. And if you live close to the beach, a cold breeze can blow in your face, making you turn away from the visual treat the ocean is, towards the land, where a gray mush is blocking your view a couple of miles ahead.
So LA can offer the under- and browntones of this album. Not obviously, but not tucked away either. And when we turn away from this rough description of the overall feel (that's pretty much based on the beat and delivery), we find that the troubling continues with the lyrics. Not as in us trying to find LA in there. But as in that they speak on troubles too. And here we learn that even under the sun we have the same problems. We deal with a wack "J.O.B.", we face the hardship of "Love, Hate & Heartbreak", while we make a fool out of ourselves when we're "Drunk". All of this shows the very human side of Avatar, that actually tries to build a distance between himself and what he says with a flashy and continuously angry deliver. He's rhyming very fast on "Space", at least sped up on "Trouble Sometimes", kicking a flow that's certainly him, but that leaves a gap between his person and what he says. Meaning he's keeping the emotion less important than the mere presentation. What however comes in a inner city griot quality and tradition on songs like "Headphones" and "Wax Museum".
The frustration is pouring out of almost every song, with the focus setting on the "Trouble Sometimes", while a twisted kind of braggadocio is accusing the "Stupid & Selfish" (over one of the best beats on here), as well as the rest, because "Everyone's Retarded". But that's all due to the philosophical and emotional part of Avatar. What turns him into a "Tightrope Walker", who's finding only a little thread to walk on as his path of sanity. Even though that song is not even about him, but a less than more fictitious her. With another female centering "In A Perfekt World", where more frustration accuses everything of not creating the circumstances for the two to be an item. What sounds like an arrogant demand, but it's backed with Avatar willingly offering "110%" of himself.
With so much depth in each song, Avatar and we need some moments to breathe. The offer is "Other Shapes" and the closing "I Believe". The intensity of the latter does not allow too much relaxation, but it closes a tense album, with the right amount of calm after a storm. What identifies this album as nothing of pop value, nothing of much easy going bob your head to it. Instead this record demands much from you, as it took a lot from Avatar to do it (what he addresses on "Sacrifice"). What in many ways is a double negative, but as the rule goes: that turns into something positive.
review: tadah
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