This Los Angeles underground MC takes you for a bumpy ride with his debut solo album.
Memoirs of the Elephant Man
In Project Blowed, a scene seemingly defined by its obscurity, Bus Driver was the most mysterious of them all. And though his fellow Blowed-ians were among the few MCs who justified trotting out the tired jazz/hip-hop analogy, Bus Driver actually sounded like a horn-Dolphy or Albert Ayler. With his screeching voice, warbling delivery and byzantine phrasing, this underground Los Angeles MC was a folk hero in some circles. No one was weirder than Bus Driver--nor were there many people out there as prodigiously talented. His hard-to-come-by recorded appearances--most notably guest spots on C.V.E.'s "Writin' Under Pressure" and Ellay Khule's "Count-down"--were unmatched in their hair-raising immediacy and demented brilliance. Which brings us to Bus Driver's long-awaited solo album, Memoirs of an Elephant Man. Like other members of the underground L.A. scene, Bus Driver now seems to be taking his rhythmic cues from Southern hip-hop's two-stepping--which, ironically enough, learned a thing or two about style from Blowed-biters Bone Thugz. And when you factor in the constrictive, bounce-oriented beats that dominate Memoirs, the end result is a greatly diminished Bus Driver. At his best, he sounds like Gift of Gab used to; at his worst, it's like listening to an anemic, wheezing Mystikal. And although Memoirs isn't a complete failure--"Think Different" and "Get on the Bus" find him rattling off verses that, judged by any standard but his own, are downright scintillating--it's hardly what one would expect from this most iconoclastic of MCs. (Available at www.foolblown.com.) C+
PW's Music Issue 2014