Album Review: Crudbump – Na$tyjam$

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Over the last ten years, Columbus, Ohio-based humorist, Drew—best known as the author of popular webcomics Toothpaste for Dinner, Superpoop, and, along with his wife Natalie Dee, Married to the Sea—has produced some of Google’s greatest hits (Lego Porn, Charles Has a Licking Problem, Roller Chester), published a book of his drawings, and has self-released seven industrial hip-hop and indie rock albums as both Kompressor and Dog Traders, respectively.

Under his latest guise, Crudbump, Drew now unveils his first full-length album in over five years, Na$tyjam$—a literally hilarious and technically impressive electronic rap release with golden-age roots and big-balled aspirations.

Produced for the most part on equipment that pre-dates the Atari, Drew’s throwback beats make room for rhymes focused on the loll of the status quo with palpable humility. Be it the raunchy, Raekwon-without-innuendo “Expert Chef” or the equally mirthful “Girl Take Your Socks Off”—a track that boasts a sonic blueprint as ripe as its foot fetish subject matter, not to mention one of the album’s many undeniably catchy hooks—Drew’s simple rhymes are vitalized by the bass-rich, lo-fi aural atmospheres he creates for each track.

Na$tyjam$ kicks off with “Take a Number,” a sort of School House Rock lesson in bureaucratic procedure on which Drew raps: “Don’t put your paws on my candy/Squirrel motherfucker, go stock your own pantry.“  His deadpan delivery here makes it difficult to tell whether he’s actually taking a jab at the welfare system or genuinely pissed off at a snack-scavenging squirrel, but even at their nuttiest, Drew’s rhymes always manage to flow in earnest.

Similarly, “I Don’t Do Shit” makes day-to-day existence in the life of a self-employed Midwesterner so enticing that nine-to-fivers everywhere will soon be ditching their gigs for more pajama-friendly working environments. “I don’t do shit, that’s my decision/Not doing shit is like my religion/Look to the east five times a day/and if I’m doing shit, then I put it away,” Drew raps, over house-style pianos, sampled hi-hats, and synthesized brass.

Like the captions for his Toothpaste for Dinner webcomics, Drew’s lyrics subtly hint at the absurdities of suburbia in a way that’s not cynical, but embracive of all that is pedestrian. On the Chicago-repping “Bass Machine,” Drew raps, “I’m like Oprah ‘cause everybody gets a car/I’m like Oprah ‘cause everybody gets a car/I’m like Oprah ‘cause I got a book club.” And later, on “England (Last Year),” he jestfully addresses the gripes of Ohioan tourists abroad: “I went to England last year and it was fucked up/ I had to get on a plane, fuck that/I had to go all the way across the pond and it turns out it isn’t really a pond/It took about 8 hours.”

Portraying the many facets of the American Middle class is something Drew shows an unparalleled knack for on Na$tyjam$, and he’s not about to leave anyone out of the roast. Whether its channeling the voice of the oppressor, as on “Your Life is a Hellscape,” where he raps “I am in caps lock/You are in lowercase/My life is awesome/Your life is a hellscape,” or, on “Big Balls Phone Calls,” taking on the role of a Ted Strickland dialin’ baller who raps, “And if I wanted to get shot for Bush I would have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan/That’s not the planistan/Honey I Shrunk the Country starring Rick Moranistan,” no one is above critique. But nothing describes the plight of the working man quite like “Subprime Lenders,” where Drew assumes the persona of a whiskey-gulping credit lender who gets his jollies by preying on house-hungry suburbanites: “Subprime lenders going on benders/(I’ll fuck your credit up/ Subprime lenders going on benders/(Oh, you thought you could afford that house?).”

The subject matter on Na$tyjam$ may be presented in innately hilarious ways, but that never detracts from the album’s sonic integrity. Rather, Drew’s home-brewed beats and stripped-down productions add levity to the lyrical jabs and over-the-top characters here. Sure, the album is packed with countless so-funny-‘cause-it’s-true moments, but it’s the so-true-that-it’s-funny moments that make it a worthy addition to your record collection, or, uh, MP3 library.

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