Adventures in Counter-Culuture proves Columbus, Ohio’s Blueprint (Albert Shepard) to be a true emcee. His sophomore, Rymneslayer release hits hard with deliberate message and impressive beats, though falling short or excessive in lengh. This isn’t the ghetto-grit of Freddie Gibbs or the gospel-grind of Black Milk. This is Blueprint, a diligent and patient lyricist. His bravado is rife with intellectualism and concerned politics. His sexism though unfortunate and seemingly unavoidable, doesn’t weigh the work down the way it could. Misogynistic moments aside, his intention is clear. Rapping ’bout his growth from a young, immature boy to a man, and those occasional rap-cliché’s of bitches, booze and the hood aside, the album is strong with calm conscientiousness.
From the intro recording, spitting verbiage about consumerism to the languid “Go Hard or Go Home (Printnificence),” the opening tracks are the kind of singles you can get some good hard sweating work done to. “Automatic,” denounces white tees and sweets the way we all should, and shows Blueprint’s flow “is a series of streams,” indeed. On the awkward club banger “Keep Bouncing,” you can almost smell the booze seep from Blueprint’s mouth as he spits on the mic, and brags his debaucherous escapades.
“Wanna Be Like You,” shows the Kid Cudi pop swag side of Blueprint. It’s almost as surprising as Blueprints’ ability to sing RnB style solos, but the track edges on crappy contemporary Black Eyed Peas synths and an overly simplistic chorus. However catchy the tune may be, “Wanna Be Like You” sounds out of place and, dare I say, underground gone wanna-be pop-poser. “My Culture,” returns to hard rap, with lyrics about Easy E getting snuffed by Aids and sound bits of good old preaching. This one hits like an anthem, a proud, declaration, an indictment as much as it is celebration. A called out, shout out to the nation’s war mongering and his peoples’ set backs and self-imposed limitations.
The dark synths and soulful pessimism on “Mind Body & Soul feat. Angelica Lee,” are unwavering, only to be saved by the energetic and life affirming, “So Alive.” Singing bout the hardness of life on little boys and single mothers working hard to go to college, this is the kind of song every kid should hear on the radio. “Stole Our Yesterday,” is slow and steady while he “Radio-Inactive” affirms Blueprint as “the main reason we don’t turn our radios on.” A tide and true indie-underground production, “Welcome Home” features avant soundscapes of children laughing and steady drums, symbols, trumpets and the sultry swoon of Blueprints songster side.
The breakup song, “Fly Away,” doesn’t offer spectacular insight but it’s simple synths present a pleasant distraction from the listless lyrics that turn into another “can’t get a job” song. “Rise and Fall,” wants to be a good old 80′ hip-hop jam but gets distracted by modern distorted vocals and uncalled for violin work. By the end of the album, you feel a little exhausted, warn out by too many unnecessary tracks. Adventures in Counter-Culture starts strong and holds it down until the half-way mark. It could have remained a legendary album without the final few flops. All in all if you have the stamina for this album, it’s definitely a worthwhile listen.