Gonzales or Chilly Gonzales, the doppelganger he has taken up on and off since his 2000 release The Entertainist, has long been a contributing member of the Canadian music scene, whether as a virtuoso pianist or an accomplished producer and songwriter. Yet it is his work as one of the most unassuming MCs, which has unsurprisingly caught the attention of most people over the years.
Working with his brother (soundtrack composer Christophe Beck) the sound is as grand as you'd expect from an album where the self-proclaimed musical genius, Jason Beck, lounges across Paris (his current residence) in his sleek white gown on the album cover. It is a grand sound from an album that is surprisingly short, lasting a mere twenty eight minutes over nine songs, yet is packed full of smart one-liners and cutting self-deprecating remarks that are far too entertaining for the album to be considered dull or rushed at any point. That said there are certain songs that do tend to have an unnecessary amount of repetition in them, which at times just seems lazy more than anything else. "I don't rap like Big Poppa 'cos I don't preach." He reiterates during 'Self Portrait', which in all fairness, he got across the first time he told us.
The album opener 'Supervillain Music' embarks upon an overly operatic band march before Gonzales' white-boy flow takes over the song, soon to be accompanied by his trademark piano sound. Those unfamiliar to Gonzales wont take too long to find out that he is not exactly an artist who takes himself too seriously as a rapper, even though he like to refer to himself, especially in 'Self Portrait, as a "music genius". The title 'Supervillain Music' is reminiscent of DOOM's Born Like This, with its own 'Supervillainz' themes. Yet it is only the title that is similar, with his style being much more The Lonely Island than that of any of Daniel Dumile's many alter egos. "I'm cult, if I wanted culture I'd eat a yogurt," he spits, conveying his complete disregard for the mainstream rap styles, as if recording possibly the first ever orchestral-rap album wasn't enough to suggest this.
Gonzales has crafted an album that is good, sometimes very good indeed, but it falls short of being great and so far this year the rap genre has produced much better releases. Nevertheless, the rap scene is currently under re-construction, with new and interesting styles being incorporated to the sub-genres of this seemingly dying genre. If this really is this world's first all-orchestral rap album, here's hoping there's much more to come. 'Who Wants to Hear This?' Gonzales asks, hopefully enough people to make this new form of hip hop take off.