Blessed is the man who thinketh deeply, Count Bass D says on “My River,” Instantly New’s third track. The producer/rapper’s deep thoughts shine through on his latest LP, giving rap fans a refreshing palate cleanser from the darker flavors dominating the genre.
For the uninitiated, Count Bass D (real name Dwight Conroy Farrell) was one of Murfreesboro’s key musical acts in the ’90s, alongside fellow Spongebath Records artists Self, Fluid Ounces and the like. He brought experimental beats and rhymes to the local scene while attending MTSU before becoming a revered underground MC and producer in the 2000s. It was during this period that he recorded several cuts with iconic, mystery-shrouded rapper/producer MF Doom, including “Rap Snitch Knishes,” one of my personal favorite cuts on Doom’s Mm.. Food album.
The 30-minute LP features Count as its sole rapper and producer, delivering simple yet interesting lines over wonky synths and 808s. The beats (which are also available on their own as a separate release) remind me of modern indie producers like Odd Future (Left Brain) and Tyler the Creator with their simplistic melodies and oddball tones. The rhymes are in a league of their own, however. He combines non-sequiturs about cold microwave burritos and “DVD rewinders” with straightforward life lessons in a way that’s just perplexing. The Count strings together abstract, non-rhyming lines in way that, despite their oddness, works so well. These loose-meaning lines are mixed in with “truth bombs” and simple words of advice, making it a light, positive listen. For example, as he says on “Have”:
Life is composed of the haves and have-nots
Those who have life and those who have not
Regardless be grateful for the life you got
It seems simple, but it means a lot
Is it mind-altering? No. But does it make you step back momentarily and think about it? Absolutely.
These advising words do have their dull moments, like the chorus of “Mind What You Say,” on which Count offers, Mind what you say ’round people you don’t know, because you never know who could be around. It just reminds me of something your grandma would tell you as a kid, which just doesn’t make for a good hook. But it is very listenable, mainly due to Count’s impeccable vocal delivery and flow. His deep voice effortlessly floats over the beats; even when the lines aren’t clever or don’t rhyme on paper, rhythmically his flow just works.
Instantly New is a nice middle ground for hip-hop listeners who aren’t down for radio rap but don’t always want something as dense as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Count Bass D makes himself at home in that sweet spot. Because of it, he stands out on a fresh, fun release that is equal parts poignant and accessible.