New MC

White Jesus

There are two song titles of note on this Kanser member's new solo record: "Reality Rap" and "Emo Rap." Thing is, they sound like they're coming from the same place—even if the latter track's title is tongue-in-cheek, the Twin Cities' rep as a place where local rappers spend a lot of time airing their bummed-out personal grievances was made by people who're too analytical—and too funny—to justify any sort of tossed-off pejorative. On White Jesus, Big Zach/New MC/Zachariah (dude has enough aliases on the front of the CD that naming them all produces more slashes than a Shaw Brothers movie) takes a gamble on the idea that he can balance self-specific storytelling and general relatability for a battle-rap-bred fan base where MCs only talk about "you" when they address their adversaries.

The self tends to win out in the end here, since the best moments on the mic come from Zach's skill for wrapping his bemused drawl around first-person, shit-talk-riddled storytelling—recollecting the people he got drunk and played ball and rocked shows with in his younger days on "Circle of Friends," dismissing an ex for getting too far into the hard stuff on "Cool J Planets" ("And I can't follow your phase/I ain't cute when you've been up for four days"), recollecting back-room sex in the Dinkytown Erbert & Gerbert's in "Sub Shop" (at least until he's interrupted by an order: "white bread, cheese, lots of ham/really don't remember if I washed my hands"). On the other hand, we all know dudes like him or the people he talks about, and with more than a decade's worth of experience on the mic, a handful of guests at their high water marks (Desdamona, P.O.S., Unicus, tons of others) and a surprisingly cohesive, '60s/'70s acid rock/funk-influenced production-by-committee (via 84 Caprice, Buck KAC, ANT, Dillon Parker and Unknown Prophets' Big Jess), White Jesus helps bring every listener into his clique.

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