A solo full-length from Ryan Augustus

Give it up to Ghost
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  May 9, 2012

beat_RyanAugustus_main
PUTTING IN HIS ALL Ghost/Ryan Augustus/Ryan Doughty.

If there's one thing rapper Ghost/Ryan Augustus/Ryan Doughty can now safely say, it's this: He's prolific. Since the middle of February, he's had vocals on 21 Educated Advocates tracks on Back to Class, 18 tracks on last month's Manic Mondays album, and now 23 tracks on his own brand-new solo album, Beats & Rhymes.

Yes, that's 62 songs, and a lot of rapping. There are plenty of good bands that never released 62 songs in their entire careers. It's a firehose of material, really, that can be hard to digest and parse.

Listening to the new record, taking any two-minute portion, you'd have a hard time knowing the difference between this and the previous two recent records. It continues what the Advocates and this movement of local rappers in general refer to as "new vintage," basically extending with some contemporary flavor the soul-heavy, boom-bap production of the hip hop that exploded in the early '90s with the likes of Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory (1991), Arrested Development's 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of (1992), Wu Tang's Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers) (1993), and, notably because of the death last week of MCA, the Beastie Boys' Ill Communication (1994).

The latter was the first disc I spun when I heard the news, as it's the Beasties record I listened to by far the most, a combination of its greatness and me being a college sophomore when it dropped. Though it was a smash multi-platinum success, it's hard not to see it as an underground template for the future: 20 tracks long, with instrumental interludes and choice samples, guest turns from the likes of Biz Markie and Q-Tip ("Keep it Together" stands up amazingly well nearly 20 years later), and a playful attitude toward hip hop that meant just about anything was fair game, musically.

Augustus was clearly a fan. He even makes a "Sabotage" reference in "Rhyming in Paradise."

Taken as a whole, though, this record is a clear artistic departure from the other two recent works. Primarily because, as the first words spoken on the record make clear, "this is my life." While on those other two discs Augustus is always sharing creativity and the mic with at least two other MCs, here he can focus on his influences and life experiences, organized like a film, with an "Opening Scene" to kick things off and "Closing Credits" to finish things up (though it actually ends up spiraling into a 12-minute tune that features some of the best guest turns on the album and a cool Triumvrat sample — don't hit stop too early).

This isn't a singles album, either, with only maybe a third of the songs featuring proper choruses and most of the production leaning toward the chill-jam vibe. Plus, it's basically family-friendly. Despite hinting at life experiences that "would make a Cape Elizabeth housewife scream," Augustus keeps everything PG, other than a few naughty words introduced by a guest or two (Dray Senior and Shane Reis are notably good).

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CDs, Wu Tang Clan,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.
  •   FULL HORNS AHEAD  |  July 03, 2014
    An arrangement of alto and baritone sax, trombone, and trumpet combining to front a band like Mama’s Boomshack grabs your attention so completely. There just aren’t many bands doing that.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE