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rljcoverOne of the major benefits of music advocacy is dabbling in genres that aren’t normally your primary listening focus. I’ve truly loved many of the Punk and Thrash submissions we’ve received, as well as Scream-o bands and Art-Rock artists I never would have heard otherwise. However, with this post I’ll be breaking some new ground for AK- but thankfully I’ll be doing so with an individual I’m profoundly familiar with. With this installment we’re digging in with Josh (current – and former- percussionist for Coheed and Cambria) Eppard’s latest release with his Hip-Hop project Weerd Science.
It’s well-documented through the course of my myriad posts that I’m a fiend for Coheed. As such, I was aware of Josh’s back-story of leaving the group in the midst of their European tour in 2006 due to the impact the touring schedule and his drug addiction had on his mental state and involvement with the band. I was also thrilled when he rejoined the boys in 2011 following Chris Pennie’s departure. With all that said, Josh’s new project had not entirely entered my radar until recently… and, admittedly, I am certainly remiss as a listener for not seeking it out sooner.
While I am a far cry from a Hip-Hop aficionado, it is a genre that I have an immense respect for when exceptionally executed… and I can say with absolute surety that Red Light Juliet, the most recent release from Weerd Science, qualifies. The songs are catchy, clever and, for my money, easily eclipse any Hip-Hop hot-tracks currently dominating the popular music charts. The fact that his material features no declamatory discussions of bling, body-counts, “chickens” or “thrift shopping” is certainly enough to elevate it in a general music discussion; however, Eppard transcends the glib wit of most MC’s by offering material of true substance.
The album opens with the instrumental track, “It Came From Kingston,” a concept familiar to Coheed fans that helps establish a sense of equilibrium for the unacquainted and simultaneously assert that this is not your standard rap record. The instrumental beautifully segues into, “10 Smack Commandments,” one of the greatest cuts I’ve ever encountered in the genre to date. The track offers a gritty and painfully candid look into the life of a heroin addict while simultaneously being wildly entertaining and immeasurably hooky. Josh’s satirical style and timbre call to mind the early efforts of Eminem , with a natural flow that doesn’t call attention to itself. The rhymes on the record are strong and often eloquent, while Eppard’s style is unique and yet familiar.
There’s an omnipresent wit and incredible sense of humor throughout the album; from addiction to television obsession, through to a doo-wop style discussion of a break-up on to an exploration of alien visitation, Eppard skillfully depicts each subject with flair and flourish. Aside from a jocular jab at P. Diddy, there’s no notable beef being paraded on the record, which is certainly another refreshing aspect of the material. However, there is an aired grievance with a record label on, “Rebel Indie,” which, with a single line, is another grim testament to the ineptitude of an industry noticeably on the decline.
Beyond the bells and whistles there are myriad moments of brilliance on this record’s eight tracks. Thoughtful (and thought provoking) topics permeate every single second of the running time, making it an album that you positively cannot miss. Melody is abundant throughout, and Josh’s vocal skill well-serves his syllabic dexterity as a lyrical Leviathan with the unpredictable razor-sharp verses he rattles off from track to track. When you can reference Geoffrey the Giraffe, the G.I. Joe Hovercraft and Megatron in a single line and still insist you’re not Nerd-Core there is a definite bit of ambidextrous slight-of hand happening. Props are certainly warranted for Chris Bittner, Dirty Ern and DJ Buffalo for their contributions to the tracks (as well as a nod to AmpKicker favorite Stellar Young’s Dave Parker for, “Sleep 1”).
If you’re looking for a new and powerful voice in the rap game, you need look no further than Weerd Science. Red Light Juliet is a clever character study of a man struggling to cope with addiction, infatuation and pop-culture saturation against the backdrop of the undulating waves of day-to-day ennui. The variety of tempos, textures, tones and tirades makes for a lively listening experience that stimulates every musical muscle without living on the lurid fodder that is food for most MC’s. Expect an escalation in play-count and prominence for Eppard and company as this music meets the masses…

For fans of: Eminem, Cypress Hill, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G. and (for Josh) Young MC

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