My dude Timothy hath wrought it and brought it again. From the germinal Atoms Fam to the mighty Hangar 18, Tim “Alaska” Baker is an emcee who’s been slept on for too long, so long in fact that he’s pretty well over this rap shit. The Crack Epidemic might be your last chance to give him his well-deserved props.
If Alaska is just a big, cold state you’ve never been to and you don’t have any idea who Tim is, don’t worry. The opening track on The Crack Epidemic’s American Splendor, “Bright Lights,” is a brief history of the man on the mic. “Crash Landing” and “Growth” spew Tim’s venom for rap, rapping, and rappers—and I do mean venom: “We speak like we’re gods, but we’re invalids of love.” Ow. Tim’s style of speech has evolved a lot over the years. Whereas he used to rap as fast and intricately as possible, he tends to switch it up and serve the song more here. It all makes this record solid top to bot, the only misstep being the impassioned, but forced ode to The City, “I Miss Olde New York.” The last few tracks—the instrumental “Harvey,” the slumbering, lumbering “Dream a Little Dream,” and the headbanger “Drift“—make this a misstep easily overlooked and quickly forgotten.
I would be remiss of me not to mention The Crack Epidemic’s better half, Kojo Kisseih. He’s the man on the production tip, and he keeps this record consistent as well as interesting. His beats are as befitting as they are banging. To wit, the record’s lone instrumental “Harvey” is one of its best songs.
It makes me sad to think that American Splendor could be the last record Tim will bless us with, but I definitely get it. We’ll always have the bright lights.
—Roy Christopher, 09 June 2011