The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of Citizen Copeís sophomore effort The Clarence Greenwood Recordings is the notion that it sparked a feud between the artist and his now former label. Originally signed to Dreamworks, the former DJ for Basehead charged that the company didnít understand his vision and subsequently bought back the rights to his second album. In these strange times where hype trumps truth, itís a difficult task to discern the facts of the case, and because the outing itself is merely a marginal improvement over Citizen Copeís uneven, self-titled debut, one is left with the impression that the story might be a poorly designed publicity campaign. Simply put: it isnít in oneís best interest to make a plea built upon artistic integrity when the final product is so seriously flawed.
Fusing hip-hop, reggae, soul, and blues, Citizen Cope winds through the 11 tracks of The Clarence Greenwood Recordings with an eye towards tackling socially conscious issues. Reflections of Americaís mean streets pass through many of his songs, while on Bullet and a Target, he utilizes a broader brush stroke to paint a portrait of the problems inherent in his countryís foreign policy. The problem, however, is that his lyrics are vague and detached, and he frequently fails to dig deep enough into the issues or construct anything around which they can resonate. Even worse, Citizen Cope continues to struggle with crafting music that is captivating and memorable. There are tunes on which he solidly succeeds ó such as the slow, heady swirl of Nite Becomes Day; the spiky, guitar-driven chug of Sonís Gonna Rise; and the bubbly groove of Bullet and a Target, for example ó as well as a few moments that show promise, such as the Beatle-esque interlude that links Pablo Picasso with My Way Home or the haunting ache of Fame. However, much like his debut, The Clarence Greenwood Recordings contains too many lethargic, hook-less excursions, which his deadpan, monotonic delivery just canít save.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box