San Francisco rapper Top'R has spent the last 15 years rocking walls with the Lords graffiti crew and stages with the Earthlings and Gurp City collectives. Along the way, he's released a half-dozen albums and toured incessantly, amassing a loyal following among skaters, indie-rap fans, metal-heads, and young drunkards. He's the unofficial spokesman for a peculiar amalgamation of outlaw subcultures united in booze and grimy, lo-fi hip-hop.
Brutally honest and hilariously self-deprecating, the battle vet uses The Marathon of Shame to dis battle rappers, rhyme about crashing on bathroom floors, and call himself "the Frank Zappa of white rappers ... the Don Johnson of bus hoppin' and shot callin'." Darkness floats close to the surface on Shame, as evidenced by murky tracks like "Pleasant Dreams" and "Grindhouse" (featuring Z-Man), which recall Metallica as much as Wu-Tang. Producer Dick Nasty allows Top'R's brighter, soulful side to shine through elsewhere, with well-placed vocal, guitar, and horn samples on "The Name Game," "Why?," and "Abandoned Buildings." Crowd favorites Conceit, Boac, Eddie-K, and Luke Sick (from Sacred Hoop) drop by to add their two cents, with DJ Quest (from Live Human) on the blistering cuts, making this a true Gurp City family affair. Top'R may reside in the underground, but The Marathon of Shame should appeal to degenerates far beyond his twisted inner circle.