Of course, it’s Jonny 5 of the Flobots (myspace), now a Universal-signed hip hop group. But in college, it was my friend and housemate Farhad’s friend Jamie. The guy that’d come up from Providence to lay down some tracks all the time. Farhad did all the production on their recordings and some of it was a bit unusual. I’d be walking by his room and he’s ask me to hit record while he banged on a 5 gallon water jug in the hallway; or he’d tell me about taking inspiration from the horn hits in a Bruce Lee film.
But what about the music, right? Up until that point I hadn’t liked a lot of hip hop, but the album steadily grew on me. It got to the point where the friend-relation had worn off and I was still listening to it more and more. The production was meticulous, creative and fascinating and Jonny 5’s MCing was impressive and his raps were smooth and, perhaps more importantly, thought provoking. While few people would call this one of the best hip hop albums, it certainly numbers among my favorites and most listened it.
Back in those days, there were even a few basement concerts of the Flobots, in a live set up with Jonny 5 on the mic, Farhad on drums, a bassist and a guy on Rhodes electric piano. I remember enjoying those shows immensely.
The title track is also one of the best. The D.A.R.E. section in the middle is pretty impressive just for how smoothly it goes by; it doesn’t seem forced at all.
I always loved how “the Last Straw” started out as so many things and then managed to merge together into one thing without one really noticing.
Onomatopoeia is still available from amazon. The Flobots’ current incarnation are in San Francisco on November 23 at the Warfield with Matisyahu.