Whitetrash Shaolin – The Prophesy

Whitetrash Shaolin
The Prophesy

I can’t help but wonder if a band like this, which features Professor E.G. Madman and Sensei Buddah Belly doing a kind of home-grown hip-hop/rap/electronica combination, is meant to be taken seriously. On the basis of that premise alone, I’d have to say no. But that doesn’t explain why many of the songs on this album are really quite good.

The band Whitetrash Shaolin describe themselves in psuedo-mystical and zen-related terms, but that’s obviously image. Image is everything in hip-hop, and these guys have one weird image. But it’s the music that matters, and the music is about 50-50. Few of these songs are focused and tight, as the band instead mixes whispered, rant-like lyrics rapped out over hip-hop style beats and heavy doses of electronic keys and other assorted sounds. The vocals are often layered and difficult to decipher, but the songs still sound catchy and fun, in a kind of underground hip-hop sort of way.

The band’s best song is the quasi-industrial electro-beat track “Wisdom & Whiskey & Dharma,” which features a smooth beat, some electronic washes of sound, and a sort of stream-of-consciousness rant overtop. There’s a few too many vocals on top of each other during “More Human Than Anything Else,” but the grooves are slick, and the song is catchy. The band name-drops Jack Tripper and Flipper on the stoner-folk/groove song “Lap Dances & Second Chances,” and “Breakfast with Elvis” appears to be about “steak and eggs and fried chicken.” “No Safe Return” is a cool, sample-laden electro-rant that’s quite catchy and well formed, and “(R)evolution” is a high-speed techno-style track. Then there’s the requisite remixes, all taking already electronic sounds and adding more up-tempo beats and playing with the vocals a bit, offering nothing new but making the songs a bit more danceable, as if anyone would see this as danceable.

This isn’t really my thing, even though I did like the band’s contributions to the Fu Man Chaw compilation I reviewed a while back. In one long sitting, their incohesiveness sort of wears thin. I wonder if this is a drug-induced spoof and I’m missing the point, but the electronic music is too good for that, and their good songs are too good for that idea to float. Still, the rambling vocals and up-beat electronics are interesting and show a lot of promise for these guys.