Slim Shady may be in recovery, but Sacramento's Brotha Lynch Hung remains sick. The Gangsta Rap lyrical legend lives in a world that's both John Carpenter and John Singleton, as his bloody bandanas and decay odors are cinematically presented through his second album with Strange Music in Coathangastrangla. The mortar in the second installment of the cannibalistic trilogy is as good as the first, with more polished production and an overall sound that makes the trunk rattle, with or without a dead body.
"Look It's A Dead Body " is Lynch at his best. The Garden Bloc Crip member gets some triumphant horns, which allow him to make a song that thumps with brassy horn chops and knocking percussion. With lines like "24 Street block throw it up daily / Still havin' abortions, nigga, I don't need babies / And I don't eat babies / I'm sicker than the Rabies / Still hella mad 'cause I didn't sign with Shady / Records, but I'm Strange now, snake in the back / Nigga, sickest independent on the map / Brap!" Lynch's latest tales from the hood are heavy on presentation and not dense in storytelling. However, the sum of Coat's parts play like the first 20 minutes of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with town exits, chase scenes and reveals. One of the best things about BLH is that while his works are most certainly fiction, the references to unrequited love, revenge and even suicide are said with such sincerity that he appears to be a master of metaphor, even if his pastiche is grounded six feet under. "Blinded By Desire," for instance is another Dr. Dre-like slap, which begins in a similar vein to Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By " and ends up something much closer to Ice-T's "Where The Shit Goes Down."
Unlike the crowded Strange moment on last year's "Don't Worry Mama, It's Just Bleeding," this album's collaboration with Tech N9ne is a highlight. "I C U" has a Bounce-minded beat that calls back to Beats By The Pound or DJ U-Neek production, as a fast-rhyming Lynch chronicles a gruesome mix of sex and violence. Imagery aside, Tech brings out the best in Lynch. The two return for an encore jewel on "Takin' Online Orders." Still, not all of the scenes are as thought-out. "It Happens" feels like a disjointed track with an experimental mumbled chorus and very freestyle-friendly rhymes. The same qualities are true of "Dead Bodies," but if a great movie is essentially seven powerful scenes, then Lynch presents more than enough vignettes on his maniacal serial killer for a supreme portrait.
In a year that's expected to see Strange Music further hijack Hip Hop's conventions for success, Brotha Lynch Hung is a jewel within the roster. BLH's ability to operate his lyricism in a world of darkness predates the likes of both Tech N9ne and early DMX. Twenty years into his career, this emcee basks in the creative focus that allows him to tell his story completely without pressures to appease radio or even Rap blogs. Instead, Coathangastrangla reminds us that Dinner & A Movie was not a quick comeback, but a carefully earned spotlight that finds an underground legend returning to the rich traditions of his first two albums with an even more developed knack for plot, character and sickness.