In what could be called a post-hip-hop musical development, sampling, looped beats, and the blending of organic and inorganic musical sources are still the sonic and creative foundation, but a folky, singer-songwriter vibe has evolved over the last ten years or so with such practicioners as Beck, Arrested Development, G. Love and Special Sauce, Lauryn Hill, Everlast, even Kid Rock and recent Madonna, circling back melodicism and a post-ironic social and romantic sincerity into a genre where thuggish materialism, moral nihilism, and stark beats typically do the most business and get the most attention.
Into this groovy mix steps Citizen Cope (a.k.a. Clartence Greenwood), the former keyboardist and DJ for Basehead, who has just released his second album - a self-composed, -produced and -performed effort called The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (echoing Marshall Mathers?).
Cope's vocals are a drawly, droopy, but subtly-phrased acquired taste - one I have happily acquired. His rhythmic style is languid and sleepy hip-hop; simple, catchy keyboard lines mirror or supplement the vocal melody. The album opener "Nite Becomes Day" is perhaps the consummate embodiment of his approach, but "Bullet and a Target" is the lead single and video - available for your streaming pleasure here (Windows Media) (Quicktime) (Real) - which is harder and quicker than typical Cope, with strings lifting and pushing the cautionary chorus - great tune.
"My Way Home" is also particularly effective: Cope's delivery here is sharper and less hazily mannered than is his norm. "Son's Gonna Rise" substitutes tersely-strummed acoustic guitar and fuzzy (keyboard?) bass for the usual piano accompaniment. "Hurricane Waters" has an engaging, percolating '70s soul feel, and the album goes out satisfyingly with ruminative, nocturnal instrumental "Deep."
Cope - who looks vaguely like a younger but world-wearier George Clooney - greets you from an e-card here.
Check out the stream of "Bullet and a Target" (above) - if it floats your dinghy, you will enjoy the rest of the album as well.
CITIZEN COPE, with backing band
9/14 New York, NY Knitting Factory
9/15 Philadelphia, PA Tin Angel
9/16 Baltimore, MD Funk Box
9/17 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
9/18 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe
CITIZEN COPE w/ backing band, supporting Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
9/19 Columbus, OH Promo West Pavilion
9/21 Toronto, ONT Venue TBA
9/22 Detroit, MI State Theatre
9/23 Niagara Falls, NY Dome Theatre
9/24 Cleveland, OH Scene Pavilion
9/25 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
9/26 Minneapolis, MN Quest