We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog experience for a bit of an experiment: I’m going to review an album I have absolutely no business reviewing. It will be awkward and out of place, and you will be glad you read it!
First off, a confession, I am incredibly out-of-touch and incurably uncool. In preparation for writing this I googled “what’s the difference between rap and hip hop” because I honestly couldn’t figure it out. Still can’t. The internet is useless sometimes. Those more in the know will have to forgive me if I sound ignorant, but despite a penchant for folksy indie-rock, yoga, and veggie burgers, I feel compelled to share my impression of the first studio album of Hartford’s own Joey Batts & Them, Bowtie Chronicles.
“Boom Bap” is my favorite selection off of the album, probably because of its great rock edge. It makes me want to ball up my tiny fists, punch a wall, and tear around town on my bicycle like I mean business. More than just a bad-ass beat, Boom Bap has plenty of the signature Joey Batts word play, so sophisticated (dare I call it high brow?) that you might need a college degree to prepare for it.
The final track, “Spaceship”, is an incredible, autobiographical piece. Raw and unflinching, it’s the story of the quotidian tragedies that go unseen, the angry pain of people who life kicks the shit out of, but they can’t or won’t roll over and play dead. You know people like this, they are your friends and neighbors and lovers. Your heart aches because you hope they get to take a break from fighting to find a little peace one day.
If you live in the Greater Hartford Region, this might be your one and only chance to hear your area code memorialized in rhyme in “860”. As a former 305-er I found this pretty amusing (I mean Miami is legitimately cool, but Connecticut…?) Still, if you are a resident of New England’s “Rising Star” you are in the enviable position of being able to see Joey Batts & Them live.
Joey Batts is a phenomenal performer. In the dim, grim, and frankly more than a bit sketchy cave of Sully’s Pub, he circulates through the crowd , talking to everyone, before exploding onto the stage with a superhuman energy and enviable charisma. He’s not far off base in “Best Friend” when he claims he’s cooler than anyone you know. Talk to him for five minutes and you’ll find yourself hoping he’ll hang out with you later.
In the interest of full disclosure, I love Joey. I used to live with his sister in Brooklyn, and he’s family. What’s wonderful about having talented people in your life with interests that diverge from your own is that it opens up your world. If someone said to me, “Come see Hartford’s greatest alternative hip hop act!” I would have responded, “Rap? Huh? Who? What?” But it’s Joey! So I’ve been to a couple of shows. I’ve listened to music that I didn’t understand, listened to it carefully and more than once because I wanted to get more out of it than a paltry first impression.
And look at that! When you wander outside of your comfort zone, out of your knee-jerk responses, you find brilliant things! You find poetry and emotion and @*#!ing humanity in ways that you never could have imagined. I, for one, am grateful for a life filled with unexpected discoveries.
Check it out, here. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bowtie-chronicles/id566409634 And here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0ZLdZqFQS0