By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Carnage Featuring Booka B
Sense of Sound
Carnage is one of the Twin Cities' most diabolical battle MCs, a beatbox juggernaut and the fastest-rapping Midwestern man on the mic this side of Twista—but the opening lines on his first full-length solo record, Sense of Sound, are carefully measured, quietly whispered, and plainly factual: "What is a DJ if he don't got scratch?/What is a producer without a tight track?/What is an MC if he cannot rap?/Well we can do it all, baby, just like that." As commanding as he is on the mic, Carnage always seems willing to share the focus, so it's not much of a shock that it's taken him almost a decade to drop a disc with his name as the most prominent one—and even then, producer Booka B's name is still the same size on the spine.
That brief refrain at the beginning of the album is the only moment where Carnage seems to be holding something back, and the rest of Sense of Sound is an exercise in the man's main strengths—namely making the complex sound simple, and vice-versa. His flow here skews toward a maniacal intensity that he sometimes ratchets up to absurd levels:He's practically cackling by the end of "State of Emergency"'s first intense syllable-juggling minute ("freakish astounding/pugnacious conflict petty renouncer of the Jesus medallion").
Tracks like "The Stank" and the title cut display a b-boy poet/street preacher-side to his style, with its sing-song taunting and conversational rumination coming across like some manic hybrid of Sadat X and Mike Ladd. Booka B's production keeps the beat pounding even when the tone gets anxious (the scuzz-funk of "...Get Down Wit Us" and the MGM musical dementia of "Creative Freedom" are highlights).
Guitarist Bill Mike adds some maggot-brained snarl to cuts like the seething "Bring the Soul Back," and guests ranging from Ill.Chemistry's Desdamona to Throwback Protocol's Concentrate to Hecatomb labelmate Illusion drop in to give the album some career-spanning context. But on Sense of Sound the spotlight is on Carnage, and he owns it completely. —Nate Patrin
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