No Mulligans, the first tape by Missoula hip-hop trio The Orators, is pleasingly rough. Part of that is likely due to bona fide amateurishness. Many of the rhymes struggle to fit in the bars that contain them, and the beats often have the airless quality of exports from Fruity Loops. Yet the group's sound is also glum and evocative in a way that makes the most of the bare production, creating a desolate atmosphere that contrasts starkly with the contemporary fashion for Big Rap. The Orators sound real, both honest and earnest. It makes their project immediately sympathetic.
Almost all of the vocal tracks are doubled, with the second lagging a little behind, as if The Orators were absently rapping along with their own album. The effect fits well with the mildly ironic tone of No Mulligans, which handles the problem of being white rappers from Montana with only a modicum of comic detachment. Not a stunt and not misplaced self-aggrandizement either, the album is a modest and enjoyable contribution to local music. Missoula can have a rap scene, and it doesn't have to be a joke. It only needs more artists like The Orators to do more projects like this one.