Published Apr 28, 2015Consider this hip-hop's answer to Mordecai Richler. The late author, renowned for penning vivid Montreal settings and evocatively Jewish themes, would be more than pleased with "Fire on Hutchison Street," one of the best tunes off Socalled's latest LP, Peoplewatching. The song has no beat, and is comprised solely of Socalled's piano playing and sing-speaking, as the Montreal based producer/MC unspools narrative lyrics about rescuing his bar mitzvah "sign book" from his burning Mile End apartment. On a sonic level, the song is wildly different from the Isaac Hayes-esque hot buttered soul of early track "Never See You Again," the booming dancehall anthem "Bootycaller" or "Curried Soul 2.0," the disco-y flute instrumental that closes the album. But Socalled's eye for offbeat detail is one of the LP's few common threads.
That attribute is more than apparent on "Boyfriend Material," which features a backdrop of '80s analogue synths and hilariously unpretentious rhymes about a high school crush who not only had the best ass, but also the "smartest presentation [in] theology class." The goofy surrealism continues on "Dreamin'," a boast track with zany lines such as: "I like my classical electric and my techno acoustic / You ask me for the lip balm and I pass you the glue stick." The song's jazzy piano loop is yet another departure from the rest of the album's soundscapes. Those vastly differing elements may keep Peoplewatching from being a cohesive experience, but they also prove to be a showcase for Socalled's impressive range, and make for a fun, boldly unpredictable LP. (Dare To Care)