‘Remember the Titan’
Available on Spotify
On his sixth album, “Remember the Titan,” Rochester rapper Blast Blicka (Bobby Clyburn) has toned down the frantic vocal delivery and ecstatic musical arrangements found on his self-titled release from 2012. He’s also set aside much of the smooth-groove flow that dominated the enjoyable if unevenly mixed “The Grey Album” from 2014.
The beats on “Remember the Titan” are less busy and Blast Blicka’s rhymes are more straightforward. The veteran emcee sounds like he has less to prove on this 15-track collection. In fact, some of the most effective songs are those with the most minimal backdrop, allowing Blicka’s unhurried, conversational lyrics to take the fore over what practically constitutes drone music; “Terminator,” with its Cello Brown-produced, two-note chromatic motive, and African producer Ben Malick’s horn-happy “I Jus” stand out.
’80s and ‘90s nostalgia abounds, from the TV culture sound collage in “Intro” to “Fav Cartoons,” a breezy ode to animated shows including “Thunder Cats” and “Duck Tales.” But Blicka doesn’t shy away from addressing sociopolitical issues, either, particularly on two of the album’s strongest tracks, “Conditions” and “Broken Lenses” — both produced by Malick.
On “Conditions,” the rapper decries violence (“Can’t even come out the crib anymore/ We the land of the free but the livin’ is hard”) and the fallacy of the American Dream (“Welcome to economics/ Where there’s no love after college, like they promised”).
“Broken Lenses” — arguably the album’s most beautiful song — boasts a shimmering guitar sample as Blicka mourns the uphill battle of raising black children to survive and be successful, particularly in an era in which the messaging on social media platforms like Instagram obscures life’s realities.
As a caveat, it’s worth noting that both songs problematically identify a blurring of clear gender roles and transgenderism as symptomatic problems that instigate cultural confusion. “Man greets woman, supposed to have a child/ Now this woman all wonderin’ we done flipped it all around/ Now we got transgenders/ See how the plan’s all switchin’?/ Another plan to outsmart n****s, but hell nah” Blicka says unequivocally on “Broken Lenses.” Such transphobic complaints feel odd and out of place, undercutting Blicka’s implicit message about hard work and self-empowerment.
With the exception of a closing track of acknowledgements, none of the songs last longer than three and a half minutes, though the album feels far from lacking in content. Released on May 18, Blast Blicka’s “Remember the Titan” ( a nod to his alma mater Greece-Acadia High School) draws strength from the rapper’s steady spittin’ and the varied musical perspectives of multiple producers. A longtime presence in the Rochester hip-hop scene, Blast Blicka readily demonstrates his ability to be simultaneously easy-going and hard-hitting.
Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s music editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.