While Rusty Redenbacher has been releasing a lot of music as a part of Mudkids and dropping numerous tracks on his own throughout the years, Lazarus (Audio Recon) is his first solo album, and one with a running theme involving renewal and rebirth, in order to start over again.
Collaborating with producer SPStar was a good move, as Redenbacher has the kind of energy and flow that is perfect for SPStar’s diverse style. When I say diverse, I mean what he samples and puts together is not the same boop bap, golden snares, or anything from song to song. If you’re a fan of producers and want to put faith in someone to take you places, SPStar is the man. To me, it sounds like they worked on this together as a team, and even if it wasn’t, it still sounds damn good.
Redenbacher is older… okay, maybe that sounds dumb because all of us are getting older. What I mean to say is that as an artist, he defines his music by making statements in time, and a lot of time has passed with the music he has released within a Mudkids mindframe. The word “growth” is rarely used positively in a hip-hop manner. I’ve said this many times before, but it’s as if sometime in the 90’s, as the music and business was becoming more collegiate, some were jealous that it had motives to move on and some chose to stunt its own growth. Too smart, too nerdy, too collegiate, it’s as if people who wanted to limit hip-hop did not want to acknowledge its own intelligence, and it felt a need to dumb itself. It divided the music, and nothing has been the same. Redenbacher has been someone who has always been about intelligence with his words, saying things in a way that doesn’t go over people’s heads but is said in a way as if to say “do you know what I mean?”
Lazarus is the album of a man who has grown musically and in life, and he shares this with songs that cover everything from ageism (“Older”) to the influence of his father (“Daddy”) and love in all of its manifestations. The album features brief spoken word interludes where he talks about a nemesis, and by the album he reveals who and what that nemesis is (or isn’t). He touches on both the spiritual and mythical, and carries that over to how that applies to hip-hop and his life, and why we as people struggle with that unseen, mental balance.
It may sound heady stuff (it is at times), but this not an album where you sit down in your chair, consume your favorite drink, and bum out. You can groove and dance to this, you can head nod to Redenbacher and SPStar and feel the vibe, do your air turntable moves and everything. Lazarus is simply a nice album that also makes the listener think. It’s music that entertains (as all hip-hop should), but it can be also an album for the older, more mature hip-hop fan that some have forgotten and/or discarded. It’s not a retro album, toss that out the door. But rather it’s a grown album, with Redenbacher feeling proud of his youth and upbringing, but being positive of the life and world that is ahead of him. He’s not buttery so don’t call him Orville, he’s Rusty and proud of it too.