There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Imported rapper Lewis Parker must want to be different. In hiphop, where everyone works under a pseudonym, using your real name is one way to distinguish yourself. Unfortunately, Parker also tries to mask his ultimately irrepressible accent with a sticky delivery that makes him sound like a British Black Moon. With song titles like “Shadows of Autumn,” and “Eyes of Dreams,” he reaches for metaphors that do not relate to his themes. His semi-cryptic rhymes about “crusades” and “Tuscan raiders” inevitably slip back into typical b-boy boasts and “keep it real” rhetoric. Lyrically, Parker is adequate—he’s just not unique. Perhaps he was trying to live up to the “alternative rap” mantle that could be so quickly thrust upon the only hiphop act signed to Massive Attack’s Melankolic label. Parker should relax and heed his own warning from “A Thousand Fragments”: “I see these heads get caught up in the madness.” Too many alternative rappers try to set themselves apart with gimmicks, such as untalented, ineffective live bands. Instead, Parker makes creative use of dark, moody samples, random scratches, and haunting echoes that provide a perfect backdrop for his grim musings. The tracks are driven by crisp breakbeats that have been cropped, chopped, and reconstructed with precision. As an alternative album, Parker’s Masquerades & Silhouettes is unremarkable. As a rap album, the project is solid. Despite his struggling lyrics, the album works because of its traditional production style: sample-heavy, thumping, and thoroughly hiphop. Lewis Parker opens for Massive Attack at the 9:30 Club—let’s hope without a band. At 8:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 393-0930. (Neil Drumming)