In tiny writing, on the spine of this Dudley Perkins disc, we are whispered the
following affirmation: "I want to get high." Which, as artistic statement,
made in black-and-white on an album's artwork, is mighty redundant; there's
not a moment on this second DP LP where Perkins the pseudo-soul
handle of MC Declaime doesn't sound right royally baked.
Which marks the second attempt of Stones Throw's in-house hero Madlib to turn his pal Declaime into some sort of new-millennial soulsinger, Perkins offering a half-sung/half-rapped (or maybe half-slurred/half-assed) mumble that lands midway between stoned rapping and near-comatose crooning, sounding the picture of laziness as, on a cut like "Separate Ways," he tosses off lines ("There ain't no easy way to do this/ But I know that you'll get through this") that deliver soul music's heart-and-soul soap operas in a state of somnolent torpor. To dismiss this as not being "real" soul or hip-hop is retarded which doesn't mean that peeps won't clamor to do such given that landing in some undiscovered middle ground betwixt the twain seems like a noble musical pursuit, one that you kinda wish the ODB had decided to chase in his dying days, given the geniusness of his moments of off-the-cuff/off-the-chain/off-his-head singing.
But, aside from other stoners, it's hard to imagine too many being too impressed
with the results of Perkins' Expressions, which rarely rises above its
conceived concept to become particularly artistic or alive, all the stoned grooves
being too snoozy to ever get dynamic. Madlib, as per, comes up with all manner
of masterful backing tracks, from the skipping strings and thudding sub-bass
of "Dear God" (in which the bearded old coot even makes a vocal guest-appearance,
seemingly played by a pitched-down Declaime, and not by Calvin Johnson as on
The Microphones' Mt.Eerie), to the chipmunked pitch-ups of "Me.", to the
thick-and-dusty old-soul slow-jam he juggles on "That's the Way It's Gonna Be," the
pick of the album's litterboxed litter. But those moments don't do much to dismiss
the notion that this is a casual Madlib side-side-project, and that the moniker-happy
hip-hop shapeshifter could knock out another 13 productions like this in a good
week if given some good weed.