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Review by Matthew Heller

Alphabetics is the everyman’s rapper. Born Jordan Braun and raised on Saginaw’s west side, he is no stranger to the reality of blue-collar life in the postindustrial streets of the city. His debut album Awkward Artist Primitive Poet reflects a hard working, grounded, and down to earth MC with a passion for spitting the truth on wax.

Most of the album's production is split between Capital C and Poindexter with other contributions from Mac Lethal (Black Clover Records), Pan-Assassin (NY), and J-Dubz (Clay Armor). The soundtrack is a sample based mix of neck breaking synthetic and soulful beats. Carefully selected and sequenced, Awkward Artist Primitive Poet has a backdrop equivalent, if not better than a majority of independently released hip-hop albums across the country.

The concepts and topics covered throughout the album range from in your face battle raps and punch lines to odes about his wife and growing up. Alphabetics has an intelligent rhyme style that is easily accessible and doesn’t fall into the trap of being overly abstract. There is not an instance throughout the 15 tracks that shows the listener any weakness in reference or cohesion.

Bits of nostalgia are laced throughout the LP, such as samples from the movie Goonies and mentions of Winnie Cooper. Alphabetics has a way of capturing his generation's pop culture and unleashing it in a way that is enduring to any 80s baby. He’s also intent on letting the listener know that he’s a die-hard Lions fan.  Whether it be his optimism of the Lions' first victory of the season on the track “Fly to Death” or his proclamation on "This Universe" that “He is here to save [the] state like Matt Stafford.” Alphabetics is not afraid to tell the world that he is down with the blue and silver. 

If you are looking for a conventional hip-hop album full of exaggerations and delusions, then Awkward Artist Primitive Poet is not for you. On the other hand, fans of honest, raw and thoughtful lyrics accompanied by a banging soundscape will rejoice that Alphabetics’ brand of hip-hop is finally surfacing in an environment of rap prone to cliché and marketing.

Alphabetics will be performing January 28th at Rubbles (122 West Michigan St., Mt. Pleasant). Awkward Artist Primitive Poet is available for sale for $6.00 at Bill's Party Store, Shamrock Party Store and Records and Tapes in Saginaw, and through MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/alphabeticssaginaw.

© Matthew Heller, 2010