Album Review: “Made of Marble Pt 2” by Marble Mummy
2010 was a ridiculous year for Marble Mummy [birth name Erik Gustafson]. After compiling a decades worth of homemade beats onto one album, he was also able to come out with two 20+ track albums known as Made of Marble [For a sense of reference, the first album of the Made of Marble series can be found here and my review for said album can be read here]. I have never met the man before, but I can only imagine that Erik spent a good part of the year running around with his head on fire, attempting to create more and more. He should be an inspiration to us all. If I ever had a productive year like him, I would consider it the best year of my life. The real catcher with all of this is that Erik is making no profit off his work. In fact, he offers all of his music for free. This is convenient for everybody, as you will not know what I’m talking about in this review unless you listen to the album. It’s much easier to talk about an album that is offered for free. All you have to do is lend 74 minutes and 12 seconds of your time. So I implore you, lend that time!
One of the songs on Made of Marble Pt. 2 conveys the same idea. Melted Polar Pop tries to convince you over and over again that you should be an open source fan, as free stuff = good. A convincing argument is raised, but unfortunately, it’s not the first song on the album. Instead, Marble Mummy has constructed proper bookends to the album. It starts out with Let Me Tell U, which is a surprisingly danceable take on the lo-fi song My Johnny Doesn’t Come Around Anymore by Flip & The Dateliners. It’s a decent song to get yourself prepared for the following 24 tracks, albeit a tad misleading. From this intro, one may expect some sort of mopey pop fusion but instead get raps about using food stamps at Meijer and breaking the “lizzaw” [whatever the hell that means]. Basically, the introduction fits and it doesn’t. It’s all about the expectations of the listener.
It’s hard to discuss Marble Mummy without mentioning his stable of rappers. Of course, previous favorite Matt G is back in a big way. In fact, he’s racked up 12 tracks on this one. One of the highlights include 50 Cups of Coffee. This song has been stuck in my head every morning for the past 3 months. It’s my Eye of the Tiger, it gets my damn juices flowing. The song is a shot of adrenaline to my eye after spending the night tossing, turning, and wondering how I am going to get to sleep. And why can’t I fall asleep? Because I have this damn song stuck in my head! This must be attributed to Marble’s fantastic mix, but Matt G must also at the same time get a good amount of credit. I’ve heard multiple versions of the song and his version works out the most splendidly. This song coincides with the way Matt G is apparently trying to develop. It was a fact of life before that Matt was a very laid back rapper, who let his words flow out at whatever pace they damn well please. Songs like Future Wife and Reminisce display a more directed Matt G. Rightfully so, as these songs are extremely personal. As the former is about trying to find true love, the latter is about his life journey of becoming a barber. This is a surprising subject matter from the guy that also brings us Brizzaken The Lizzaw. For the most part, it appears that Matt G has improved since his last Marble Mummy fare. However, there are still moments when I can find him struggling to keep up with the beat or vice-versa. It can become somewhat distracting at times, but truth be told, Matt G is the lyrical heart of this album.
Matt also spends some time collaborating with Slappy Slim [aka DJ M-Select/Van Noorst of Gurgel Geuw fame] and they have a lot of fun spitting out nonsense. Gracious Goodness features an extremely breezy beat with some of the best rhyming that digital money can buy [“I like the way you lie/face down in your vomit/puking up McDonalds/shrimp tacos, I don’t want it” is a disgustingly poetic example]. The duo is also featured on We Iz Reggae Singaz, which is a tongue-in-cheek stab at the dub genre [“I wanna be an actor/I wanna be a Toronto Raptor”]. The only complaint I have about the presence of Marmalade Productions is that they only appear twice. Of course, nobody wants to wear out a welcome, but I could listen to a whole album of them. That is, as long as Mummy produces it.
Then, out of nowhere, comes Rodimus P. I know very little of his origin, but judging from the way that he spits on Devils, he might as well had come from the gates of hell. He contrasts Matt G’s “coming and going” style with something much more fierce. He is a fresh breath of intensity in a genre that sometimes requires the barking of orders. The way he takes control of the mic is reminiscent of Rick Ross. The only difference is that Rodimus actually has a sense of beat and is much more tolerable to listen to than The Boss. He makes rapping with an angry tone sound pleasant. His poetic force also shines on Afternoon, which is another track that helps build up the general pace. The album also features Marble veteran, Y.P Louis. He plays the role of the rapper that never takes a break to breathe on the buttery track, You Can Get The Deuces. His rhymes flow like brewing coffee with no filter. Just pouring straight into the cup.
It wouldn’t be a Marble Mummy album without some instrumental tracks. After all, what better way to showcase a skilled DJ than giving him the actual spotlight? DJ Marble’s talents are also highlighted well in I Miss U So, which is the ending side of the album’s bookends. It starts out with a simple beat that progresses further into oblivion. Layer by layer, Marble throws on scratches and noises like paper maché. What results is a 6 and a half minute cluster fuck that is not for the weak of hearing. It’s not the type of diddy you would play at a social gathering, but the skill inside of it must be acknowledged. On Elusive Emulator, Marble teams up with Ch0p L0giq to create those fancy labrynth scratches that we were all so used to on Made of Marbe Pt. 1. One track that sticks out a lot in my mind is See These Taco Babies Play. For this track, Marble stepped aside and let his childhood friend Alex Merz take control. And control he took. It’s a dangerously danceable tune that evolves into something even more dangerous. It eventually builds up to a faux-keytaur solo that makes me feel like I’m about to explode. It reminds me very much of the theme music to Caeser’s Palace for Sega Genesis. Every time I hear this song, I want to do nothing more than walk around an empty casino, play Keno and bet on a horse or two. Any song that reminds me of horse racing is just fine in my book. In fact, I encourage all artists to create songs to race horses to. It’s a genre that will forever go untapped. I’m betting 500 on Tantooga.
Marble also spends some time experimenting with female vocalists. Microscope Tiger [with its interlude, Shake That Train] features Regina Cherene. The only way to describe it is some sort of sexy indie-pop that you have more or less already seen hipsters dancing awkwardly to. But it’s one of those awkward dances that everybody knows how to do, but are just too afraid to try. If only there was less judgement in this world. Falcon is a song written by Marble and sung by Kelly Jean Caldwell. It’s a pseudo-morose acoustic tune, with some faint digital twings and twangs thrown in. Although these songs work singularly, I feel that they somewhat disrupt the general arc of the album. Especially in the case of Falcon, the stark juxtaposition of genre feels a little too out of place. Perhaps if there were a couple of similar songs sprinkled in, I would feel differently.
As a whole, Made of Marble Pt 2 runs on a general arc. It starts out fresh and intense with tracks like 50 Cups of Coffee and Afternoon. The second half of the album turns much darker, starting with the gloom anthem, Mountain Holla [which features my favorite beat on the album]. It progresses into Downtrodden, in which Matt G and Rodimus P express their regrets in life. This is all thrown out of whack by the closing track, So Easy, which is a laid back free-for-all. It makes a proper ending to a proper listening experience. Although not much time has elapsed between Made of Marble Parts 1 and 2, there are countless signs of growth on the part of everyone involved. It is simply a more mature album. The beats are even more inventive and much more polished. Marble Mummy & Co have nothing but time to age even more and I for one am excited to see what he comes up with next.
If you’re a fan of the experimental hip-hop genre [or you’re curious to see what in the hell experimental hip-hop is] I suggest giving this album a chance. It has much more substance and heart than the run-of-the-mill bullshit you hear blasting out of car stereos. There are no gunshots or cash registers opening. These are beats you can relate to. This was one of my favorite albums of 2010 and at the low low price of free, you have no excuse to not give it a shot and let the Marble Mummy into your home. You may be glad you did.
Coze’s Rating: 8.5/10
Originally posted 2/3/11