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Basick Sickness

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The Sickness Is Spreading
Self-released

Building on the notoriety of its live show, local hip-hop duo Basick Sickness just released a full-length, The Sickness Is Spreading. Basick (Ryan Cassidy) and E.O.J. the Bum (a.k.a. Joe Capote) are now familiar faces around town both as DJs and hosts at the South Side's Hkan lounge. Yet the multi-instrumentalists originally formed a middle-school rock band before turning to their current hybrid rap.

The CD's 10 tracks display a manic musical eclecticism: from horn-driven funky beats to raunchy rap rock, from classic rock guitars to moody "Lose Yourself" numbers. "Imagine" samples and pitch-shifts the John Lennon classic, using a sinister chord change to reinterpret the song's message within a bleak, existential landscape.

Basick's voice and perspective as a rapper also swing between extremes. On several tracks he walks an aggressively sexist line, yet he'll turn it around to work his smooth on "Baby." Similarly, the album's opener, "Talk Shit," finds him talking up the rims, whips, bodyguards and jewelry; later on he reaches for introspective and, one suspects, more sincere material, like "Tragic Day," which cops a bit of Everlast's gloom.

On "Take a Look," a shimmering keyboard burble floats above the lyrics: "I write tracks to explain where I came from / bridge a racial gap to know we all in the same one / I reach out to the poor and the rich kids / to let 'em know that we all get addicted / I've been prescripted to spit this sick shit, to spread this sickness till everybody gets this."

Overall The Sickness Is Spreading gives the impression of two musicians figuring out who they are and untangling their influences in the time-honored fashion: by throwing everything at the wall, and seeing what sticks. As such, it maps out a broad territory for future exploration, and there's likely something (or two or three things) here for everyone.

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