Wordburglar’s new studio album comes with a healthy dose of boom bap, nerdy references and his uniquely upbeat, cheeky delivery.
In 2012 Wordburglar released 3rdburglar, my favourite album of that year and one that remains on heavy rotation on my iPod. On that album was one of my enduring favourite songs, the fantastically cheeky, upbeat and almost nonsensical Croque Monsieur. Since 3rdburglar Wordburglar released his G.I. Joe concept album Welcome To Cobra Island. Something of a personal project the music was sound but the subject matter didn’t have wide appeal. Burgie’s latest studio album, Rapplicable Skills is, to me, the natural successor to 3rdburglar. It is however, with a sense of trepidation that I settle down to to listen to this latest effort from one of my favourite indie artists. How could Rapplicable Skills possibly improve on 3rdburglar?
My pessimism is tempered somewhat by the first track available to stream ahead of the album dropping. Channel Halifax is a tribute to Burgie’s home city referencing many of the haunts and services familiar to locals. I’ve never visited Halifax but I find I’m able to relate to the sentiment.
Production comes from a number of talents including Beat Mason, Fresh Kils, Savillion and Milk Plus whilst DJ iRate and More or Les provide cuts. Ghettosocks offers beats and vocals on Walkmen. Other guest vocals come from MC Frontalot, Mega Ran, Chokeules and Timbuktu. Also familiar names for fans of the Toronto indie-rap scene and fans of nerdcore.
The album relies on a classic boom-bap rap feel, which for me as a fan of the sound, will always hold my attention. Big kick drums, sharp snares and plenty of scratching matched with Wordburglar‘s fun style of delivery creates a positive feel to the album. Burgie’s delivery tends to fall loosely into two styles. Upbeat, a little silly and filled with humorous tidbits and puns on one hand, whilst on the other he has an incredible talent for telling a story through his lyrics. Your Friends Brother from 3rdburglar is a perfect example of the latter and a track I find impossible not to compare to the Milk-Plus produced track The Other Shop. Setting a similar tone The Other Shop, is a little bit eerie, complex yet understated and the perfect bed for Burgie to paint a picture of a store of ill repute, somewhere you will only venture in times of desperation. Narc Hi-Score is another biographical tale in song form which tells the story of a young Wordburglar getting his name in Nintendo Power for achieving a hi-score on an obscure NES game. On the silly, fun side tracks like the opening track Word the Frig Up and the posse cut Warp Formula are a tremendous amount of fun without needing to be taken too seriously. Both of these are standouts for me.
All positive then? Well, in a word… yes! Whilst 3rdburglar was really great, I actually didn’t enjoy every track. Controversially I would never grow to like Where’s My At-At At. Rapplicable Skills however ticks every box. The style of rap, the production, the tone, the sentiment… Everything works for me and honestly, hand on heart? In the two weeks I’ve had the album I’ve played nothing else, and not a single track is a skipper. Album of the year? It’s entirely possible. Don’t believe me? Go and try it for yourself. Beg, borrow or better still, buy a copy now.
Rapplicable Skills is available to download now via Wordburglar‘s bandcamp page right now for $10, or grab a physical copy for a couple of dollars more.
Hear more from Wordburglar about Rapplicable Skills on Word To The Nerd, the interview podcast from The Unheard Nerd.