Paris - Acid Reflex

By J.H. Thompkins, S.F. Bay Guardian

Paris tackles the big picture on Acid Reflex, a gloriously irreverent deconstruction of the state of our nation. The grooves are upbeat, simple, and bottom-heavy. The raps are tightly rhymed and intricately constructed. He fires broadsides at believing in holy ghosts, at the international ravages of Yankee imperialism, at America's murderous neglect of its ghettos, at distorted history, ruined dreams, and the bloody legacy of a greedy, power-drunk elite.

As with most of Paris's albums, it's the lyrics that distinguish one track from the next, not the beats. He works with a bass and a drum machine, laying down an ominous undercurrent beneath percussive tics, handclaps, and gunfire - the odd guitar line really jumps out. You feel Paris like a train more than a plane. He trades musical elevation for head-on impact, softening the mix with gospel-inflected female choirs and a solitary male voice that reminds me of Nate Dogg on "Regulate."

More essential to Acid Reflex are sound samples and short skits that add earthbound social context to the rapper's revolutionary vision: angry mobs in the street, brutal police, terrified citizens, domestic terror, and urban rebels looking for targets.

At times, the recording slips into a kind of wish fulfillment that matches any of rap's tedious bling and bitch fantasies. But when Paris scores, he's a dangerous man. Check out "The Violence of the Lambs," a sampled sermon by liberation theologist Jeremiah Wright - once the pastor of Barack Obama's church - that fits right in. To quote another angry rapper, "Don't tell me that you understand / Until you hear the man."

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