The connections were tenuous at best, but after looking at Syntax' "Dialog'a'Rhythmic" for a while I realized he was friends with New York rapper L.I.F.E. Long, and that at least gave me a starting point to think about his music. Syntax himself is a Brooklynite who hails from Cocoon Movements, a clique of progressive underground emcees, and Syntax himself fits that sound to a tee. The first single off "Dialog'a'Rhythmic" is "Forest Hill," and if you didn't know he was a New Yorker you'd think this was a West coast/California rap style and song. He sums up his style best with the line "I refuse to live for the Facebook moments."
Not surprisingly Syntax' special guest are as ruggedly independent and underground as he is, right down to Emcee Slick on "Self Help (Here We Go)," who you may know better from Pseudo Slang (if you know him at all). He's not regionally biased though as guest Dox on "Walk Again" is (if I'm not mistaken) from Minneapolis, while Man Danno on "Insomnia Opera" is from Seattle. The intro immediately reminds me of a Jedi Mind Tricks track, and Danno's gravelly delivery backs up that impression.
Man Danno is also a producer of record for 4 tracks throughout, although oddly enough not the one he's featured on - that one was done by Third Eye Bling. He's got a good touch though. The rattling and reverberating drums of "Soul Lonely" pair well with Syntax' melodic flow, and the harrowed pianos and horns of "Money on the Beach" suit Syntax' desperate quest to succeed at all costs. He's also well served by Battery Jackson on "Ambition Blindsided" and "Hello Tomorrow." Syntax himself steps behind the boards to produce "Time Breaks Everything" with the aforementioned fellow New York emcee L.I.F.E. Long.
I'm a bit torn on Syntax. There's nothing overly unpleasant about the 50 minutes of "Dialog'a'Rhythmic," no reason I can't regard it as a thoughtfully executed and produced album. There are even thought provoking songs like "This Is Me," which take a deep look at the daily grind that turns so many cubicle workers into "caffeine fiends" who are "glued to a desk" all day long in "suit and tie attire." I remember my brief and unpleasant experiences with that rat race, and I don't miss it, so anybody listening will no doubt feel where Syntax is coming from. There's just something about Syntax that doesn't quite click for me through no fault of his own. He's in that uncomfortable middle of being skilled enough to not be bad, but being average enough to not blow me away. I can't say that I'd drive around listening to "Dialog'a'Rhythmic" on reply, nor that I'd be able to quote his rap lyrics by heart to friends. No - Syntax is "perfectly acceptable." I may be damning him with faint praise, but he definitely doesn't suck.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: January 7th, 2014