At first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess that Adam Strange is a brilliant, buckwildin’ hip-hop ace or an up & coming modern painter. There’s something roughhewn and earthy about him that does hint at his history in organic farming and high-minded horticulture but put a mic in his hand and give him something sumptuous to ride over and he’s goddamn lethal – noodle loose, clever as hell and funny as all get out. While the least prolific of GFE’s three frontline MCs (a fact noted in a charmingly self-deprecating way in his music), when Strange puts out a fresh joint it’s perfectly rolled and ready to blaze.
Case in point, his second solo album, New Americana (The Cause and Effect of Pop Culture Vol. II), begins with a patriotic ohm and then dives into the contemporary malaise draggin’ folks down around America. It could be a bummer trip but Strange, helped throughout by his Granola Funk cohorts, has an off-handed gift for slipping past defenses to shine a light into places right under nose that we may have missed. His modus operandi is subtle and exceedingly funny, a rap-tastic counterpart to primo stand-ups like Dave Attell and Louis C.K., tickling fancies and snatchin’ up panties with his weed addled adventures while showing that being a stoner doesn’t necessarily mean one is indolent or slow witted. As usual with the GFE crew, the music is organic, flowing and filled with a musicality and head-nodding charm quite beyond the vast majority of contemporary hip-hop artists. Adam’s love of his chosen genre, amped up by his collaborator’s similar gusto, shines through every track on New Americana, which jumps ahead of the pack as one of 2011’s first great albums.
Let’s just hope the fates put this self-avowed road dog back on the live circuit in a bigger way this year, so he and the rest of GFE can remind the rest of y’all what I’ve known for years: This crew’s only real competition in the hip-hop realm is The Roots, and frankly GFE and Strange are generally a lot more fun.