Butterscotch is the world's first female beatboxing champion. Eat your heart out, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In addition to excelling in a musical tradition that is both marginalized and dominated by men, Butterscotch plays guitar and piano, composes original songs, and sings in a beautifully dry jazz-alto style. The Scotch Tapes (Vol. 1-3) are not beatboxing mixtapes. They lie firmly in the realm of jazz/hip-hop crossover, and she sings more than she raps. This raises an interesting question: Would Butterscotch be so interesting if she weren't making the drum sounds with her mouth?
That's counterfactual and therefore unfair. It becomes relevant, though, when we consider the gap between recording and performance. As an album, The Scotch Tapes is like more upbeat Cat Power or less sexual D'Angelo. As a feat, on the other hand, her art is too spectacular to compare. The Butterscotch sound is not necessarily fresh, but the means by which she produces it are thrilling in the extreme. In this way, she hearkens back to the early days of hip-hop, when the show was just as, if not more, important than the music.
Butterscotch performs at the Top Hat Mon., Sept. 12, at 8 PM along with SpecialFX. $12.