Monday, January 28, 2008

Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art

Shape of Broad Minds
Craft of the Lost Art
(08.2007, Lex Records)
Verdict = Best hip hop album of 2007

If you happened to follow the show listings that FG provided throughout the past year you probably have noticed the occasional nods to hip hop shows rolling through Salt Lake (and more often through Park City). The reason for the listings is basically the result of a long maintained affection for the genre. I have had intentions to review some of what I have heard in the field since we began Forest Gospel, but have hit writing blocks in my previous attempts. I think a part of this has been a general lack of enthusiasm for most of the current hip hop releases that I have come. In fact I was beginning to feel that I was either out of touch with the genre or that all the jabbering that has been going on for the last ten years about the death of hip hop was actually true. I mean it seems like ages since I‘ve heard a hip hop album that has defied the restraints of genre that are currently digging its grave. I still get little depressed when I get a hip hop itch that there is nothing new that satisfies and really no reason that there shouldn’t be. Albums like Deltron 3030, Fantastic Damage, The Cold Vein, Cloudead and many others still feel vibrant whenever they rock my speakers. To me that means that the idea of hip hop isn’t dead. Dwelling on the past can be a little irresponsible though. It just seems like the genre’s gems are becoming fewer and farther between. Fast forward to 2007 (or rewind a little bit at this point) and enter Shape of Broad Minds. Among some fairly enjoyable hip hop last year, Craft of the Lost Art is a complex tapestry of one million ideas and is the recorded salvation I have been waiting for. Really, pause for a second and take this in: Shape of Broad Minds have resurrected the creativity in hip hop. So here I am 326 words into this and I have barely introduced my subject. Well, for those sorting through this swamp of ridiculously tangential material, you should be happy because Shape of Broad Minds is fully qualified to be in class with these previous albums I mentioned above. Now, before you rush off and bust out X many shells to scoop up this delicious treat, know this – Craft of the Lost Art isn’t the easiest record to disassemble. In fact, it is reminding me a lot of the time that it took me to really get into Cloudead’s debut. Reason being the album is gargantuan pulling together 23 tracks! Beyond that, with all its lyrical depth and a musical diversity stretching into blues and jazz, this album is subtle in its charms in comparison to some of the in-your-face antics the genre is known for. Craft of the Lost Art takes old school, backpacker sensibilities and turns them from graffiti into street art. One of the greatest parts about Shape of Broad Minds is the ability to make fun hip hop music that is intelligent and relaxed. So who are Shape of Broad Minds? Well prepare for confusion – the group is mostly a collection of alter egos of one man, Jneiro Jarel. Along with Jarel’s genius the album takes on plenty of contributions that span the omnipresence of Panama Black along with guests MF Doom, Deborah Jordan, Count Bass D and multiple others. The outcome is a schizophrenic mix of track after track of grin inducing incredibleness. Seriously, while it may take weeks and weeks to digest, Craft of the Lost Art is the best hip hop debut to come around in a long time and is certainly the best hip hop album of 2007.

-Mr. Thistle

Shape Of Broad Minds (feat MF Doom) - "Let's Go"

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