Mike Ladd is hip-hop's Baz Luhrmann and its Alvin Toffler. A maniacally brainy thirtysomething lyricist-producer, Ladd fashions Luhrmannesque opera from a crude mash of classic material and current media, then embeds 'em with modern philosophical meaning à la Toffler.
With a conceptual trilogy on the mythic battle between the indie Infesticons and the jiggy Majesticons for control of hip-hop's soul (of which the Majesticons' last LP, Beauty Party, is the nonresolvable middle chapter), Ladd is creating hip-hop culture's Ill-iad. He molds questions of art and capitalism into a comprehensive world theory.
Even if you read all the liner notes and are familiar with the tale's first part, 2000's Gun Hill Road, staying on top of the narrative can be hopeless. Following Ladd's aspirations down every alley is like citing an album's worth of Bomb Squad samples. Ladd's sonics rock different schools of laptop funk, from Cash Money's booty bounce to Kid 606's dada destructo-art. His grad-school storytelling vernacular and the skills of the assembled cast (which includes Def Jux luminaries El-P, Vast Aire, and Murs) ignite with the greatest possibility of posse records. Like life, hardly anything about this Asimov-scale world is small.
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