Tunes For Improvement
Imperfekt is a hip-hop MC that produces his own beats. Though locally there are several examples—Rahlan Kay and Coolzey come to mind—it isn’t a common thing. MCs and producers tend to specialize, but in the decidedly un-hip-hop environment of Iowa, perhaps these guys feel like they’re on their own and have to go DiY top to bottom. In the case of Imperfekt, I can’t argue with the results.
The beats are in the laid back, raw, breakbeat style pioneered by A Tribe Called Quest and DJ Premier, a style which has fallen out of favor with the mainstream beat-makers. But Imperfekt doesn’t have any trouble finding some new twists within a well-worn tradition. There isn’t much variation in rhythm from track to track, but the samples provide enough differences in mood and texture to keep things interesting. The CD includes instrumentals for every track, which, minus the vocals, feels like a second album.
Imperfekt’s vocal style shows years of practice paying off. He never stumbles out of the groove or tries to force an awkward line to fit. The album contains some gems like “food for thought authors grab your pot holders and oven mitts / smooth as butter is you must not know who you’re brunchin’ with,” from the song “Hunger.” “Home” stands out both for Afro Jesus’ memorable chorus and samples of news reports about the flood of 2008. As a former Cedar Rapidian, I can’t say I remember living there with much affection, but Imperfekt makes me feel his love for the place. He’s a blue-collar, plain-speaking MC. His rhymes aren’t flashy or fashionably deranged, but they complement and mesh with the strong, musical beats. It’s a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts thing.
And he doesn’t waste any energy on hip hop’s cliche boasts—something that stopped feeling fresh 30 years ago. Calling himself ‘Imperfekt’ is an act of humility in a world of braggarts, but this is a CD he can be proud of.