Since 2004, Brooklyn-based musician Tim Fite has released two proper albums — Gone Ain't Gone and Fair Ain't Fair — on Anti. And with his latest Under The Table Tennis he adds to a successful string of self-released albums that he's made available for free on his website.
As far as genres go, Fite takes immense pleasure in cunningly mashing them all up. His music is an uncanny and carnivalistic musical melee of hip hop, folk, blues, spirituals, rock and pop. It's audacious and unpredictable mix designed to incite angry mobs, comfort and rally the working class and evoke a massive boogie-fest of rejoicing.
One of Fite's best assets is that he doesn't take himself to seriously so he can play the jester for the common folk. He uses his goofy, wacky and at times bizarre humor to weave together witty storylines that satirize and question life's myriad contradictions, injustices and WTF's. And whether he raps, sings or shouts, his lyrics are curiously simple, strange and beautiful. And they have a way of sneaking into your mind and heart making you giggle, grimace or feel exactly what Fite wants you to feel.
Fite's last full-length free download was 2007's Over the Counter Culture. On that album he took aim at the evils and bogusness of war, gangsta bling and consumer culture. And with Under The Table Tennis, yet again, he pulls no punches. For starters, the lead track "For-Closure," is a stomping and pounding fistful of righteous anger. I don't know if he's drawing from personal experience, but nonetheless, the song personifies the heartbreak felt by homeowners who've lost their houses due to the sad state of the U.S. economy.
Then comes "Oversight," on which Fite deftly samples soundbites from President Obama's speeches. I know I enjoyed hearing the comically entertaining and sly spin on political rhetoric. And I'm sure the Commander in Chief will at least appreciate the creative combination and re-contextualization of his speech snippets as they slide in and out over the blasting horns and swinging freak-jazz musical backdrop.
Whether it's overt and in your face, or covert via metaphor and slick storytelling, for the most part, UTTT is what I expected from Fite. But he's clearly upped the ante this time around. Front to back, the album has few (if any) missteps and is packed with anthems for the overworked (Jobs), uninsured (Not Covred), under-empowered employees (No Notice), struggling artists (Why You No Pay Me) to name just a few. And one of the albums most consumer-focused and joyously empowering tunes is the righteously rocking, raging and grooving psychedelic soul track "Money Back." If there ever was a anthem for refunds this is it.
Yes, Fite does get political and stands unashamedly on his soapbox, but he never gets too serious and, like a gifted orator and skillful songster, he knows how to woo and leave you feeling good and sow the seeds of thought with the catchy, cautionary and flippant finale "We Didn't Warn You."
The more I listen to Under The Table Tennis, the more I think of how it will sound and stand up five, or even ten years from now. That said, I see the album not only as one of the best albums (so far) of 2010, but I also see it as a candidate for a contemporary soundtrack time capsule of our current economic times. And whatever socioeconomic class you're in, Fite has crafted a song that's waiting for you to claim as your own.
The only thing that bothers me about the album is that Fite is giving it away for free, because I would have gladly paid for it. But, hey, that's just how generous of a guy he is. So the only logically thing you can do is download the gem, soak it up and then go see Fite live. Because during his one man traveling roadshow, his other talent (movie-making) transforms his show into a concert-meets-mini-cartoon-film-fest bursting with laughs, pleasure, liberation and pure sonic satisfaction.
Download Under the Table Tennis on Tim Fite's website.Powered by Sidelines