Sensational: Get on My Page

Get on My Page


THERE'S THE HIP-HOP genius of Eminem, who sounds like Big Bird speed-reading Edgar Allan Poe. Then there's the hip-hop genius of Sensational, who sounds like Howlin' Wolf brushing his teeth in the shower. One is bigger than irony. The other could be trapped behind a hide-a-bed in Brooklyn. But Sensational's art isn't heroic because he's obscure: It's heroic because he's oblivious to his obscurity in the same way Eminem is oblivious to his permanent residence on Easy Street near Low Road.

Apparently deciding he required a slightly more upbeat moniker than Torture, the former Jungle Brother released three albums as Sensational on Brooklyn's WordSound imprint, charting an almost schizophrenic split between high-life ambition and no-fi music. Recorded entirely through Walkman headphones, 1997's Loaded With Power distorted such memorable mantras as "Hit after hit/Make your head spin," while Corner the Market refined his sonic claustrophilia into a chant-sustaining groove: "Sewin' up avenues/With power moves." By last year's Heavyweighter, Sensational was "sittin' on the top," with "multiple wives, and more in progress."

Which provokes the question: Huh? What market? What hits? Sensational choruses sound like wishful spells cast on a doubting ego, something you'd mutter to yourself while gearing up for a date. His latest, Get on My Page, could be subconscious hip hop--ripples passing through a mind way ahead of itself. For riffs he offers only kitchen-cupboard percussion and exquisitely junky synth minimalism--catchy like a yawn spreading through a train car. Yet the album's title (and the label switch from Wordsound to Ipecac) suggest impatience with a planet not yet ready to give him the attention paid to Peaches, much less MF Doom. Sensational thinks his cottony flow should be swabbing the ears of every last woman and child. And "Mackin'" might sew up some side streets, at least. "Let Me Be" even features a female, Ambience, who purports to bring a "Dirty South style" to sucking your "what." Then she abandons the euphemism and substitutes the word "dick," probably realizing that "hit after hit" didn't refer to sales.

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