There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Song titles like “Sex on the Brain” and “Freakazoid” suggest that Questionmark Asylum’s debut, The Album, is just another formulaic, sex-obsessed urban contemporary offering, but the quartet is far more ambitious than that. The quartet also raps and sings about absentee fathers (“Daddy”), self-esteem in the ghetto (“You Don’t Understand”), and women who stay with abusive men (“Baby”). As important as the ensemble’s lyrics are its luxuriant musical and vocal textures. Throughout the disc, the ensemble alternates between oratorial rapping and singing. “Hey Lookaway” is carried by a chorus of sweetly singing female voices. “Love, Peace & Soul” is a vehicle for the jazzy go-go contributions of Chuck Brown, and “Curse of the Q” features polished Cameolike synth-funk. Most of the disc combines actual musicians and high-tech, computerized backing tracks; several cuts are distinguished by subtle bass work from studio musicians, and samples from such unlikely hiphop sources as the Dells and Diana Ross.