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Astronautalis: Hip-Hop's Unified Theory

For rappers, it never hurts to have a foil handy; to cede the spotlight to a guest MC who can shine a light and offer a second opinion, not to mention provide credibility by association. In "The Story of My Life," Astronautalis — an adventurous young rapper who's equally versed in freestyle battle raps, alternative country and indie rock — shares the spotlight with the percussive delivery of gifted Rhymesayers MC P.O.S.

Astronautalis himself has crafted a persona as a sort of avant-garde rapper, influenced by the likes of Nick Cave and even Bob Dylan. With a sound that moves beyond mere crate-digging and sampling, Astronautalis and P.O.S. conjure up a hard-bitten unifying theory ("Life ain't a dream / It's just a string of jokes all connected") while utilizing input from members of indie-rock outfits such as Midlake and The Paper Chase. Just as the Rhymesayers and Anticon collectives persuaded adventurous rock fans to explore hip-hop, Astronautalis may just turn a few rap fans on to the sounds of American Gothic.

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Andy Young