Moodswing Records (Atlanta)
Cats who’ve been around Indiana hip-hop for a while know and respect the name Jason Atkins, aka KnowMassive. He used to kick up dust in various rhyme cliques and the occasional battle rap around here circa 1998 or so. He’s lived in Atlanta the past few years and has apparently created quite a sensation there for being a new renaissance man and hip-hop experimentalist. He’s a thinking man’s MC, always a gentleman, a characteristic that really stands out in the crunked-out Dirty South.
The hype is instantly understood after one spin of moodswingset, Atkins’ 2003 release now being given a push by his label. It’s a 35-minute suite of 17 songs, most lasting fewer than two minutes but containing enough verbiage and intelligence for an 80-minute disc. The music is like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul meeting Guided By Voices, which is to say an unexpectedly brilliant meld that makes so much sense that you wonder why nobody had ever thought of it before.
In the early 1990s, De La and Tribe experimented with loops from old, eccentric records as a way of mixing found art with their own thoughts in order to create something new and distinctively their own. KnowMassive’s album both evokes and updates those notions of creativity. In that same way, moodswingset is a masterpiece of nuance in which the thoughts expressed are intense and vibrant, the rap skillmanship impeccable, but the music seemingly comes from a totally random or previously unknown place.
There are far too many lines to try and quote from this disc; it’s useless even to attempt. “We were imperfect friends, now we’re perfect strangers” is one hook. “Urban essence relater / Shit on hit paraders / Off the top of the head of the head class debater” is a memorable claim Atkins makes of his abilities. You’ll just have to hear this thing for yourself. It’ll be available shortly, if not already, at local music stores.
Atkins himself is in town for a few weeks and may/deserves to perform at live shows here. Look for a full KnowMassive story in these pages soon. The writers in Atlanta are right: If you have a passion for positive, scholarly hip-hop that invites as much as it challenges, you must hear this record.