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Review: John Stamps' Naked Lunch
Posted July 23, 2014 by Taylor Peters
WRITTEN BY
Taylor Peters
ON
July 23, 2014

 

Naked Lunch, the latest mixtape from Indianapolis' John Stampsstarts off with “46201 317." The hook of that, despite probably being functionally a series of Lost-style mystery numbers to anyone not from Indiana--it’s just the title of the song sung over and over--does what a hook is supposed to do and catches in the brain. I almost put in 46201 the other day in an online order form even though I live in 46205 just because the thing was so stuck in my head.

 

 

Stamps comes in at the end of the hook with, “Worried about all my dogs/ cause not all my dogs can go to heaven.” That’s an odd reference to a 1989 animated movie. It’s not totally out there, but it’s just slightly weird. The slightly weird, it turns out, is precisely where Stamps excels. Why, for example, is there a dude pulling an accent and backing Stamps up on the end of “Viva La Stamps?” And why now, in 2014, sample “Mad World” by Gary Jules from the Donnie Darko soundtrack?  Because why not, right?

 

 

Honestly “because why not” ought to be the response to musical questions more often. It’s way more fun. That’s reason number one why Naked Lunch is such a great chunk of Indiana hip-hop: it’s way too much fun. There is a sense of humor that runs through the whole thing that’s infectious. Reasons two through, I don’t know, 100, why Naked Lunch is good are, of course, substantially more diverse and specific.  

 

For one, Stamps’ flow is tighter than ever. Stronger and tighter even than on last year’s excellent PIggy Banx (which, yes, I did just also review because I’m riding this John Stamps train full-speed ahead, y’all). He can speed through triplets and sixteenths with the best of them, but where he shines is in his ability to compress and expand a rhyme scheme, giving his verses this rising and falling sway-rhythm. Take, for instance, the clipping and flipping patterns at the beginning of each verse that give way to the more free-form rhythms later on in the verses of “46201,” or the long-breath winding loops in “Good Will Hunting.”

 

 

The production here, which comes primarily from Knag$, is stellar. As far as I'm concerned, Knag$ is the king of trap-referencing thumps and strain here in Indianapolis. “Middle of the Road” is a particular stand out, with the slow motion swells turning the track into a massive dreamy congolmerate that somehow still pummels forward.

 

Txtbook offers the production on one track: the self-consciously titled “Boom Bap” (which is, after all, the most “traditional” sounding track on the tape). The production stays mostly under-the-table with drums and acoustic bass, but it’s a perfect complement for Stamps rhyming, particularly on that sweet interlocking hook. “Beepers and Beamers” is another strong track here, and its towering shuffle is provided by none other than Chuck Inglish (i.e., one half of The Cool Kids).

 

 

Above all, Naked Lunch is marked by the surfeit of talent it has stuffed inside it. In addition to the producers, we’ve got features from the likes of Grey Granite, Freddie Bunz, Indiana Chief, King God, Oreo Jones, and Sirius Blvck, all bringing strong verses to their respective tracks (scope, in particular, “Sin City” which features three features for the price of one). And, of course, Valerie Tubbs’ vocal contributions to “46201” and “Tapestries” cannot remain un-commented upon. In particular on “Tapestries,” Tubbs, with her layered vocals, warps the track into a whole different space.

 

Now we have arrived to the space where I again shout out the upcoming Ghost Gun Summer Tour. It is happening. It is real. Every dude who raps on this tape will be traveling with the tour. You can help them kick it off next Thursday at General Public in Fountain Square (more info that here--it’s also the launch party for a book of photography by Eleanor Beier and Oreo Jones). Buy the tape from Stamps’ Bandcamp, or even consider donating a little skrilla to the tour’s Indiegogo campaign so they can have a little extra money for sandwiches. Because, listen, if they don’t have enough money for sandwiches, eventually they’ll run out of sandwiches, and they’ll shrivel away and not be able to rap anymore. That would be seriously not chill.

 

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