Album Review: “Marbstar” by Marble Mummy

It’s not that I’ve grown weary of rap music, but I am wholly sick and tired of hearing people rapping. It’s a plague that’s infecting the masses. They do it in the street, at the grocery store, in line at the post office and even standing at a urinal. They do with with music or without. And the rhymes are god awful. I don’t know if they’re original creations or lines from the radio verbatim, but nobody is interested in hearing you say “I got so many bitches, I skeet in all their faces” while waiting for a bus at 3:30 in the morning. I can’t tell if they’re trying to magnetize more “bitches” towards them [does that even work?] or get noticed by some record exec that happens to be walking by. I suppose nobody can blame them. In the diluted world of music today, it seems any rapper from Brooklyn can get a record deal. It gets delivered to their doorsteps as frequently as the Duane Reader. The end result is a whole load of bullshit that is impossible for a curious listener to sift through. It’s not good, it provides no merit and all of the beats are ridiculously unimaginative.

That’s why I’m so refreshed by the work of Marble Mummy. For the last few years, his music is the large gulp of Pellegrino at the end of the desert. Not only are his beats unique, but he also has the ability to wrangle up some of Michigan’s finest rappers. His latest venture, Marbstar, makes no exceptions. It’s 40 minutes of brain-massaging grooves and probably 1 minute of disorienting intensity. Production-wise, there has been a noticeable growth in Marble’s technique. In his first release is just about a year, his beats take more of a backseat stance. Marble has always had a unique sound, but in previous releases, it would have a tendency to overtake the track, sometimes making changes mid-verse. This time around, he allows the emcees to have more of a sense of control. For example, in Trapped By Sounds, the Sega Genesisesque beat makes change-ups as Slappy Slim’s story escalates, forming a sense of level change. Another major highlight would be his use of David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on Yung Marbstar, which flows perfectly for an ensemble track. In my honest opinion, it works a hell of a lot better than the source material. And if you’ve been following Marble’s work like I have, you would also notice that he’s starting to sample himself. Learn Learn features Magic Toon and Time Don’t Go Back was first heard as Afternoon. Just call him Meta Mummy.

As per the standard fare, the familiar voices of Grandsilanti are heard in abundance. Slappy Slim is featured prominently and doesn’t disappoint [in fact nobody can be disappointed at all with lines like “I got a lot of options, like I’m running out of gas up on 28th”]. In Trapped By Sounds, he regales us with an epic narrative featuring piranas, cranial damage via tire iron, exiled British party women and a hot air balloon. Rodimus P makes a brief and triumphant return in Give Rap Back. His intensely abrasive voice shoots razor blades to your eardrums. I can’t picture him ever talking to children or the elderly without laughing. So when the razors cut your ears, the blood gets transfused by Matt G’s peppy chorus, making it a smoother experience. And yes, this album has plenty of Matt G to go around. He simply needs to be there, to antagonize Marble’s beats and keep the pace going. Even on tracks that he’s not featured, one can still imagine his loud mouth in the background. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, as it’s hard to picture one without the other [but then again, the bonus track features some acapella Matt G stylings, so my theory is false]. The album closes with Donnie Destro with a track of his very own, Chocolate Sea Party. At first, I didn’t know what to think of it. But then I pictured his standing on stage in an empty jazz lounge, bow tie untied and screaming into the microphone. The piano player has an unashed cigarette hanging out of his mouth and one of the backup singers is crying up a storm. Suddenly the track was perfect, as it conveys an image as specific as that. Samson Gallactus is just smooth as hell on Yung Marbstar, spitting out rhymes effortlessly [but not lazily] and he’s not afraid to make Patrick Swayze references [which kind of reminds me why I listen to rap in the first place. Pop culture references can be made and forgotten in a matter of seconds. That isn’t as plausible in other genres of music].

In a sign of good things to come, there are also a lot of newcomers in the mix. Ann Arbor’s own Crack City is also featured on Shine 4 Ever and Yung Marbstar. Crackzilla sounds exactly like the name he gave himself. Although I’ve only been exposed to one of his verses, his vocal inflections are akin to a someone fresh off the pipe. In speaking of vocal inflections, I’ve grown very warm to the thought of listening to Chimichangaz more often. In a world where a common listener can’t tell rappers apart, he has a voice that would easily be spotted in a police lineup. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering it and I’ve come to the conclusion that he sounds like a dopey sidekick cartoon character that’s been stuck in a headlock for 3 hours. He whines and wheezes his way through his verses and it sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Professor Megablown [featured on Shine 4 Ever and Horrorshow] appears to be the token stoner of the crew. You can just tell by his relaxed manner and more than likely, his name. Also on Horrorshow [and also hailing from Ann Arbor] is Tree City, which is comprised of Clavius Crates and GP. Over Marble’s own spin of the Amityville Horror theme, Clavius Crates struggles to breathe as he flows mega-steccato. GP keeps up the panicked pace, as he rhymes the word “mace” with “Ma$e”. I repeat: he rhymes the word “mace” with “Ma$e”. Yeah, he’s one of them. Everything about the track is joy-inducing. But describing it is next to worthless. So just listen to it, dummies.

There is no reason to not download this album. At the low and symmetrical price of $2.22, you’d be an idiot not to. Whether it be to hear about Slappy Slim’s epic adventure in Trapped By Sounds or to be the only one on the sidewalk dancing like an idiot to Yung Marbstar, this album is worth every penny. In fact, you should pay $3.33 for it. Maybe even $4.44. Even you can support local rap music, for the low, low price of $5.55. Not only is it cheaper than the new Pitbull album, it also doesn’t suck. How can you lose?!? You can’t. You know you want to download it. You’ll be a cooler person if you do.