ARKANE – Non-Fiction
(2006 Battle Scar Records)
Arkane has established a name for himself in the Fox Valley, though while still promoting this new album he has changed that name to Cory Crush. While he may very well stand at the top of the Fox Valley rap scene, the quality of his productions and the framework of his flow betray a limited scope and a simplistic style. The majority of the beats are hollow, the instrumentation is lacking in diversity, and the stories he spits seem contived.
Maybe the cover art turned me off completely before I even hit play. There Arkane stands, throwing up a mock gangsta hand symbol and a sneer. However, when I hit play and the first track, “SupaNova,” began, I realized that the rudimentary cover art was an apt introduction to this artist’s work. His flow is reminiscent of Fred Durst or Markey Mark: basic rhyme schemes and elementary constructions that rarely dig under the surface.The guests he brings into the mix, Saige, K-Way and Undecent, do bring a more fully realized delivery during their very welcome contributions to this album.
Every once in a while, on tracks like “Adrenaline” and “Static,” Arkane shows that he has put his heart into his performance and is stretching his abilities. And the title track does honestly depict that this emcee isn’t really trying to front some gangsta ideology. But with lines like “I’m going to keep it nonfiction, keep it real” and “Arkane’s about as real as real could ever be,” there is a lack of creativity in expressing his ideals. And then he follows with “Envy,” the obligatory posturing track of any marginally talented emcee, and the moment of heartfelt delivery is over.
Over the next nine tracks, cliché after cliché hits the speaker, from the spoken introductions in seven of those nine tracks to the closing cut bemoaning the loss of his favorite lady friend because she couldn’t handle his burgeoning fame (“I got on my knees and begged you to stay/ But at the end of the day you left anyway.”) The music bounces between easy-listening piano backings with harsh drum-machine beats to thin synth stabs and under-mixed beats making a desperate attempt to sound relevant.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. Arkane seems very dedicated to this creation and he never comes off as being anything but genuine. He is obviously intent on pushing his music forward and evolving as an emcee. Maybe his next record will let it all out and show what he can do. Maybe he can leave the beat construction to someone with a more accomplished style and concentrate on crafting more complex rhymes and a more fluid delivery.There are moments throughout this disc that reveal the heart and passion that are at the core of this emcee. But he spends more time posturing than delivering, more time talking about how much he kicks ass and not enough time actually kicking ass.