Friday, July 22, 2016

23 Skidoo's Infinite Moonwalk Through Hip-Hop

There's a vast space between religion and spirituality. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo does a deep exploration of that chasm on his latest CD, INFINITY PLUS ONE. There was a time when the Beastie Boys could sing "Intergalactic" and people flew off their couches to dance. But Asheville boldly goes where no hip-hop artist has gone before.  An entire track (and post-track) for "Tastes Like Space" is devoted to and concepts and sounds found by the Voyager 1 and 2 probes.

Hip-hop for kids is decidedly different from adult contemporary rap (i.e., everything else). The more complex the beats, the more universal the concepts. "My First Multiverse" delves into individuality, using the simple idea that a mirror is just a reflection and that every action can result in a plethora of possibilities. The first video, "Secret Superhero," shows kids in costumes demonstrating their powers but is really about growing up:

I'm a secret superhero
I don't got powers yet
But I wonder what I'm gonna get

Certainly a concept that every kid can relate to, provided on INFINITY PLUS ONE with a rapturous Motown horn section.

It's only a recent development (standard operating procedure for any emerging artform) that hip-hop is incorporating second- and third-generation performers into the tent. Skidoo has co-written songs with his daughter, Saki, who performs again on "Monsters." It's a laundry list of creatures who are just that – fictional beings that are nothing to be afraid of. I've said it before (and even to him) that the best inspiration is seeing somebody your own age doing something that you might want to do. At Kidstock and Symphony Space, I've witnessed young girls go from boppers to slack-jawed statues when Saki goes center stage. In the next decade, I'm sure we'll hear from at least one of them crediting their early exposure to kid-hop to their decision to go into the biz.

Skidoo likes wordplay (who doesn't) and his passion comes through on songs like "Lucktricity" and "Smardi Gras." His vision is fulfilled by 40 musicians including an entire New Orleans brass band. To list a few would omit many more, suffice to say that the mission is accomplished – man has hip-hopped on the moon. CD closer "Long Days and Short Years" is a revved-up southern rock and rap track that celebrates everything that comes between the happiness and the tears.

Any CD that cleverly gives equal footing to Carl Sagan and James Brown wins points for originality and 23 Skidoo does not skimp on extras – INFINITY PLUS ONE comes with a trippy 13 bonus tracks (mostly instrumentals so the kids can kick out their own jams). The final "Track 23" (as least that's what came up in GraceNote) is all space noise. There's even a secret code if you hang in there. So keep your eyes to the skies and move your feet in time with the music. Kid-hop is Skidoo's religion and you just might be converted.

INFINITY PLUS ONE is available from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's website, Amazon and iTunes.

Here is the video for the new song, "Secret Superhero":

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