| And he would be?
A 27-year-old from the hip hop coldspot of Chicago, Illinois. He
once planned to gain fame by catching balls thrown very fast at
his head. But that didn't work out so he put down the glove and
picked up the mic. "It's pretty dangerous, though," he
says, "you get beat up pretty bad."
No, playing baseball, stupid. He was a catcher - the guy who stands
behind the bloke with the bat. "I definitely had aspirations
to be an athlete," he recalls, "but sometimes your plans
change without you controlling them." So now he raps.
Ah, rounders' loss is hip hop's
Yes indeedy. His debut album,
'One A.M.', is a home run with bases loaded. That means 'very good',
in baseball terms.
And what's so special about it?
Well, apart from Diverse's flow -- like Talib Kweli on speed - there's
his background in poetry, ensuring a lyrical scope beyond the brags
and bitches. Then there's the production line-up: Madlib, Prefuse
73 and Rjd2.
Wow. That's my shit right there.
And there's more. Jean Grae, Lyrics Born and Vast Aire (of Cannibal
Ox) all pop by to drop lyrics. Not that he needs their help- on
tracks like 'Ain't Right' and the Hammond-anthem 'Uprock' he holds
the fort just dandy.
Homeboy's got connects then.
Yup. And they don't stop with hip hop. He's working with Tortoise,
building tracks in the studio around pre-written lyrics, allowing
him to flex his poetic first love.
Oh, the baggy-pants brigade won't like that.
"The more I do this the more I realize I don't have to compromise
my roots in poetry to get noticed and do what I want to do."
||Chicago hasn't given
much to the world of hip hop, instead building its musical legacy
on the soul of Curtis and the house that jack built. With just Common,
the wretched Do Or Die and a few indie also-rans to compete with,
Diverse shouldn't need to do much to elevate himself to near the
top of the local field. And with a Slut dream team of producers
- Madlib, RJD2, Prefuse 73 - it's no wonder 'One AM.' is such an
impressive debut. The MC has a background in poetry, which makes
the odd track 'difficult', as he crams in too many syllables in
his rush to impress. But, the sin of overeagerness aside, he's made
one of hip hop's best indie albums of the year, utilizing a Kweli-like
flow and a broad lyrical range. Madlib's wobble-bass 'Ain't Right'
is an obvious highlight, as is the dark, Zep-ish 'Under The Hammer',
and finding a bad track on 'One AM.' will keep you up a lot later
than the wee small hours.