Every half-decade, there comes a new rap label that keeps me from abandoning the genre altogether. Just in time, late this past year, I tripped over the New Haven–based Fake Four, and now I'm happy to have discovered for myself the imprint's Ferrari-tongued guitar-plucking architect Ceschi (pronounced "chess-key") Ramos.
It seemed improbable that anyone could top such Fake Four releases as Factor's Lawson Graham and Awol One's Owl Hours, but Ceschi's suicidal opus with producer DJ Scientist, The One Man Band Broke Up, is a triumph of triumphs. Profound at every turn, this second Ceschi release showcases his voluminous vocal range and sharp, authentic songwriting. He can stop lamenting for kids who "missed out on the late-'90s underground rap scene" — wrenching horn elegies like "No New York" and captivating guitar cries like "Bad Joke" are as inventive as any Rawkus jewel, and much kinder to the ear than the labyrinthine babbling that followed at Def Jux.
Unless you frequent blogs around the hip-hop nerdosphere, then you heard it here first: Fake Four is the most important label in progressive hip-hop right now, and The One Man Band Broke Up is, ironically, the album that saved me from carving my arteries with a splintered Kid Cudi disc.