It didn't occur to me until I made my own hip-hop album (true story), that you really do have to deliver the bravado. I made fun of rap groups that tried to act cocky, and I didn't see the error in my ways until it was my turn. You can be the geeky English major who knows how to translate iambic pentameter to a sweet-ass rhyme, but you still have to bring attitude. It's only natural. Missoula artist Mite Aswel, aka Kyle McAfee, has all the tasty ingredients of good hip-hop on his new album Face the Music—bravado, sexual innuendo (or not-so-innuendo), humor, compelling beats and smart-person words.
"Chasin' the Dream," the first track, might be the strongest one and a frontrunner, if you were to pick a single. "Fuck chasin' the dream," raps Mite Aswel, "I'm gonna live it." In a minor-key, beat-laden landscape we hear about angels and demons sipping tea together in the midst of chaos. "This rap is a story of love," says Aswel, to the creeping beats. "Beyond good and evil are people made of trust, shed the husk of our culture, take in the whole picture. Walk through the membrane that separates the blisters." It's the track you play when you're having a comeback moment.
Because of meme-culture, the title of the second track, "Hey Girl," makes me think of Ryan Gosling. The lyrics don't deter from that. Lines like, "Hey girl, it's nice to meet you...When we make love, we're breakin' sonic boundaries," layer on the cheese in the most hilarious way. My favorite: "You're like food. I want to eat you." Are we being serious? Who cares. It's too good.
I could quote Mite Aswel lyrics all day long, but it's also important to note that the music itself is seductive in a sneaky way. Heavy beats mix with frenetic digital bursts that sometimes sound like horns playing improv solos. Nothing too fancy, here. But the featured guests—The Riz and LeeLee, for instance—and electronic flourishes gives Face the Music that added cherry on top.
Mite Aswel plays a CD release show at the Palace Thu., Jan. 24, at 9 PM with special guests Tonsofun, Traff the Wiz and Dar. Free.