Art Vandelay “Face Tattoo LP 2012”
Before you even listen to these songs you have to be willing to admit one thing: Art Vandelay is a funny name for a rapper. On top of that, we have an album called “The Face Tattoo LP 2012” which can only lead to one really famous person who has a face tattoo: Mike Tyson. This also leads me to remembering parts of the movie The Hangover that I would just as soon forget. To round out the holy trinity, the cover of this album distinctly resembles the Dr. Dre album “The Chronic” only with a face tattoo over it. Yes, all signs point to this as being a kind of joke album with hints of college frat boy humor maybe, but that all quickly fades when upon the second track (“Bleach”) the hip hop begins.
Art Vandelay has a very laid back style of rapping. He has some great lyrics, spits them out well and does so over some equally great beats. His music style is generally mellow, which allows him to rap in a slower manner, as if he’s simply having a conversation with you but with that little bit of rhythm that borders on singing flushed in for effect. Granted, on songs such as “What is Matter?” he gets seemingly stuck in a fast rap loop, but for the most part this is very low key. In the musical sense of the album it reminds me a lot of A Tribe Called Quest.
And then you have the lyrics. While you can see references that continue to make you think this is a joke, I believe it to be anything but one. On the song “Hey Zeus!” he ends with an audio clip of a most outraged Samuel L. Jackson explaining his name and threatening to do things with lightning that I won’t mention here. Other topics he likes to point out at various times: He indeed does not give a fuck and wishes for people he does not like to die slowly.
Sometimes he can lyrics such as “I got a face of a face tattoo- who the fuck asked you?”, which makes you kind of giggle but not feel too deep, but then on the song “Presidents to Prime Ministers” he gets political.
In the titular track, he lets us know he watches Seinfeld reruns, making the obvious reference to his name. For those unaware, when trying to keep unemployment benefits George Constanza created the fake industry called Vandelay Industries and gave the lady Jerry’s phone number so whenever Jerry answered his phone he’d have to answer it as such. Well, obviously Kramer ruined the whole thing.
In addition to movie and television references, we also get told a story about how scientists disproved that dinosaurs existed because humans and dinosaurs couldn’t have existed together. That part of this album, admittedly, made me sad because I do like dinosaurs.
We do get into the eternal debate of religion, in which Art Vandelay states in regards to having read the Bible: “I’m not saying that you’re stupid, it’s just weird- no offense”.
Throughout it all though, we get into the biggest issues in life which is that of life itself perhaps. Aside from informing me that labels don’t pay money, the most profound statement on this entire album is that “Life is not a problem, only death is”.
No matter what Art Vandelay might be rapping about (And really, the words are all good. There aren’t any weird songs in here I ever want to just skip over), he does so with such conviction. Even if he’s simply telling us how ugly he is and how much his life sucks times three, he at least makes it sound like he’s Chuck D. At the end of the day, combined with the kickass beats he has, that’s all that really matters. This is a fine piece of hip hop that took me by complete surprise, but as he is the first to say, his name will soon be coming out of everyone’s mouth.
- Baron von Rappberry