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Homespun: Jason and the Beast

Birth of the Beast EP



Jason Braun fancies himself more of a poet than a rapper; he makes that much clear with the references found on his debut EP's opening track, "The Beast in the Bookhouse." By beginning with a Samuel Johnson quote and name-checking Ken Kesey and the Beat poets, Braun posits his project as an effort to bring literary sensibilities to hip-hop rhymes. Not a bad idea, though mixing a lit major's fever dreams with hip-hop's palette is a little like giving the Decemberists a drum machine and a sampler. At times he comes off more like Soul Coughing's M. Doughty than a member of the Anticon collective, but the boho poetry mixes well with auxiliary instrumentalists (which include the Floating City's drummer, Nick Boshans, and ex-Ghost in Light drummer/RFT clubs editor Shae Moseley). The slowed-down, spoken-word "Letter to Brooklyn" is the best of the bunch — Braun's lyrics are given space to breathe, and the kitchen-sink mix of turntable scratches, vintage keys and bang-on-a-can percussion fits the hodgepodge aesthetic of the EP. This vibe carries through to the disc's packaging, which includes a visual complement to the music: a comic book created by Braun and artist Matt Kindt.

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