The New Generation (embracing the new age)
(out of 5 stars)
This year, the local hiphop producer OC Notes has released three solo albums: Medicine, Secret Society, and The New Generation (embracing the new age). Let's make sense of this wealth of sounds and concepts. The first thing to note is the season in which each of these albums was dropped: The first one, Medicine, appeared in spring; the second, Secret Society, in summer; the third, The New Generation, in fall. The second thing to note is the content: The first is an experiment with hiphop; the second, hiphop and rock; the third, raw rock. The best album in this trilogy is Secret Society, mainly because it combines both forms (hiphop and rock) so successfully. With Medicine, we get a lot of what OC Notes does with the greatest ease: hiphop that's pulled and pushed every which way. With New Generation, we get something that's still in development, that has yet to cohere—OC Notes' excursions into the foreign land of indie rock.
Indeed, New Generation is really a collection of notes (most of the tracks are only two minutes long) collected from these excursions. On some tracks, OC simply and briefly combines a little scratching and some strumming—this is what scratching is about, this is what playing a guitar is about, this is what happens when they are next to each other. A few tracks, however, like "Let Me Know" (the best thing on the album) are notes stuffed with beautiful and numinous ideas.
To sum up: With the third album of the trilogy, we are in the early stages of something wonderful; with the first, we are in the late stages of something wonderful; with the middle album, however, we find this lateness and newness combined. After Shabazz Palace's Black Up, Secret Society stands as the best Seattle hiphop album of 2011. But to get a proper sense of why it is great, you must listen to the whole. Start with Medicine and end with New Generation. What a trip.
OC Notes DJs the Stranger Genius Awards Party on Fri Sept 16, Moore Theatre, 9 pm, $7, 21+.