Edan – Beauty and the Beat

Beauty and the Beat

Yeah, okay, we get it. Hip-hop can be combined with lots of shit, and sometimes the results of this genetic recombination are pretty dope. But the wanton gene-splicing that colors the hip-hop scene can often produce results that are more harmful mutations than anything else. Enter Edan, a hyper-egotistical rapper who spits lines over – get ready, world – like, totally psychedelic beats! They sound more like hippy-rock than rap, dude!

Rejecting traditional rap topics such as drugs, guns, and selling drugs to buy guns, Edan spits lines about ridiculous shit like rapping on fireballs and associating with cyborgs. Whatever, man. Despite his oft-stupid lyrical content (okay, man, you’re telling me that you and Insight form a “Funky Voltron?”), sometimes he turns a pretty good phrase that fits perfectly with his ultra-aggressive delivery.

Unfortunately, his strong, baritone bravado makes it sound like every verse is an earth-shattering insult. This style really only contributes to his self-importance and often manages to clash annoyingly with the backing music – some of the beats are soft-spoken bits composed mainly of guitar. Instead of toning down his vocal delivery to match the mood of the sample, however, Edan continues to clumsily bang his chest over even the most delicate beats; case in point, see the flute-led beat of “Promised Land” as it’s trampled by Edan’s over-enunciated psychedelic landscape. “Making Planets” is just plain boring until Mr. Lif brings his trademark nasally flow to the mixture and the guitars kick in to further distinguish his verse from Edan’s. “Beauty” is a melodramatic song in which Edan ruminates about a “dog [who] takes a shit on the floor and it grows wings.”

Edan fares much better on the more upbeat songs. “Fumbling over Words that Rhyme” features an excellent beat composed of a propulsive drumbeat, lilting Moogs, and an infectious sampled vocal melody. Edan skips impressively throughout the beat, recounting the various victories of different MCs throughout the genesis of hip-hop. “Torture Chamber” has a nifty beat featuring skipping drums and synths that sound like dank water dripping from the ceiling of the basement in a B-movie horror flick. Edan and guest MC Percee P handle the challenge admirably by speeding up their delivery to match the backing track and spitting morbid lines about the rather exotic thoughts in a nameless serial killer’s mind.

Okay, so maybe I really am being too harsh. At least half of Beauty and the Beat is quite good. But about midway through, once you finally gain your bearings among the ethereal, unconventional sound of the album, you realize that rather than being refreshingly original, a number of the beats just sorta suck. The potentially brilliant novelty of the album is dramatically overshadowed by its ineffective production. The end result seems rushed and somehow poorly thought out; he squanders the effect of fantastic songs such as “Fumbling over Words that Rhyme” and “Torture Chamber” by stumbling on the surrounding tracks. If Edan can sort out the dismayingly schizophrenic nature of Beauty and the Beat, he could harness his immense potential as both a rapper and lyricist and create something pretty cool, especially if he gets guest-MCs who perform as well as Insight, Percee P, and Mr. Lif do on this album. In the meantime, the self-proclaimed “Humble Magnificent” should be a little more humble until he releases something that’s actually magnificent.