Count Bass D, Dwight Spitz

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Upon first glance, the cover of Count Bass D's 1995 debut Pre-Life Crisis did not look like it could possibly contain hip-hop. The cover of that album, released during the Nashville-based rapper/producer's brief stint on Sony, features an artful black-and-white photo of the Count sitting on a bench in front of a tall wooden fence. He wears a suit that is equal parts fabulous and corny, and a grin that cuts from ear to ear. Turn it over and the track list includes a number called "T-Boz Tried to Talk to Me!" Needless to say, the Count's debut didn't go very far: The multi-instrumentalist's supple, jazzy grooves and playful rhymes seemed out of time and his label dropped him.

Not counting a brief EP in 1998, Dwight Spitz was the Count's comeback. Released in 2002, the album has an unnerving quality, as though the Count hasn't really gotten over the way the music business treated him: songs clock in at just around two minutes; there are skits about glucose; fantastic beats lose interest and shut themselves off after a minute; some songs feature dialogue from movies or sitcoms rather than the rapper himself. "Blues for Percy Carey" is a sorrowful number dedicated to his incarcerated friend, the rapper M.F. Grimm, while the loopy "Make a Buck" puts it down for the integrity of the humble. The unnerving "Sanctuary" finds him giving Orville Redenbacher props through one speaker while Jim Morrison warbles through the other. "I ain't Jigga/ Just a poor black nigga," he spits on the off-kilter "Ohio Playas," probably the most complete song here. Despite nice guest spots by Edan, J. Rawls, M.F. Doom and Dionne Farris, this is the Count's world — numbed, scatterbrained and effortlessly mad.