Last year, Busdriver released a cover of Animal Collective’s Leaf House as a single – a straight up cover, with no rapping. To be blunt, it was a bit of a trainwreck, but it still intrigued me that he was trying his hand at alt-pop after years stretching the boundaries of rap, by virtue of his sheer weirdness. His quirks are not just the obvious (his flow makes Ol’ Dirty Bastard sound like Chuck D) but it’s in his unconventional structures and lyrics so abstract it’s difficult to make head or tail of him.
Even after nine albums that were each consecutively stranger than the last, Busdriver's tenth outing is a jarring departure. Released in 2012, Beaus$Eros (pronounced "Bows and Arrows") finds the speed rapper changing gears and singing lazily over electro-pop beats. He incorporates three-part harmonies, complex melodies, and a washed-out production style (courtesy of Loden) that shares a lot in common with pre-So Peter Gabriel.
Listening to Busdriver for the first time can be a rather jarring experience. His lexicon is as wide as his speed is blistering, and the sonic palate that his music draws from is incredibly diverse. Anyone expecting hip-hop by the numbers best check their expectations at the door. My first exposure to the underrated MC came in the track “Pretentious Friends” off of Modeselektor’s latest release Monkeytown.
L.A. rapper Regan Farquhar, better known as Busdriver, is one of the busier and weirder dudes in the business. Whether it’s featuring on tracks ranging from electro-heads Modeselektor to’90s West coasters Freestyle Project, starting new projects, or releasing odd one-offs with indie rockers Deerhoof, the dude seems pretty eager to keep his schedule full.
When L.A.’s Busdriver performs his distinctive Dadaist hip-hop live, you can’t help but notice how nervous he looks up there. But the word “nervous” both underestimates Regan John Farquhar’s abilities and undersells just how unhinged and combustible his act is. Cardiganed and bespectacled like an assistant professor, the MC’s eyes tend to focus only on the upper left and right corners of the venue or on nothing at all.
Busdriver's ninth solo studio album is a fine fit for Fake Four, as their genre-bending hip-hop and open acceptance of rappers singing has given many experimentally-minded MCs the opportunity to flirt with the pop music world. Here, Belgian producer Loden mixes hip-hop, electronica, drum & bass, glitch-hop, synth rock, '80s pop and anything else he can get his hands on, often moving from one style to another within a single track. His production suits Busdriver's delivery, especially with Busdriver singing on the majority of the tracks.