It seems like Seattle’s Boom Bap Project stopped for an espresso or three before laying down the vocal tracks for their new album, Reprogram, because there are few other ways to explain the agility and sheer energy which is present throughout. For 57 minutes the Boom Bap Project — MCs Karim, Destro Destructo, and DJ Scene -— manages to float words over innovative and varied backdrops, courtesy of producers Jake One and Vitamin D. Add to the mix some notable guest appearances from Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab, Dilated Peoples’ Rakaa Iriscience, and other members from Pacific Northwest hip-hop collaborative Oldominion, and we’re taking about a fairly interesting album by a talented bunch of artists.
This isn’t to say the album is without faults. One of the biggest issues is an identity crisis: the album contains contrasts in mood that leave the listener unable to decide whether to smile, dance or lie in the fetal position with the lights out, shivering. Take, for example, ‘Rock the Spot’, an upbeat “Hooray for Northwest Hip-Hop” party song that harkens back to rap’s simpler days, featuring Jake One’s tremendous production and excellent scratching from DJ Scene. It’s great, except that it’s followed by the hidden track ‘Surveillance’, featuring frantic rhymes that suggest legislators in Washington are stripping us of our civil liberties: “They monitor our e-mails/they monitor our cells/they got satellites equipped to monitor us where we dwell…” A fine point, but just 30 seconds ago, on the same track no less, I was bouncing my knee and having fun. What gives? To their credit, it’s quite imaginative to include a hidden track about Washington spies, their cameras, and phone taps, right in the middle of the album.
This dark edge lingers, and actually works well as the album finishes out. In particular, ‘Ammunition’ featuring Lifesavas, is enjoyable though eerie with its hard guitar riffs and creepy Pink Floyd-esque synth. Reprogram is frequently overcast, successful on the technical side, and for the most part, fully caffeinated — without a doubt, a product of its own environment.