During my listening sessions for Busdriver’s Beaus$Eros, my roommate and our couch-surfing semi-roommate both caught snippets of the album, and their reactions were both along of the lines of “WTF are you listening to?!” My roommate just came out and said it, but I blame his grumpiness on his latest campaign to quit smoking. Our couch-surfer is Mormon, so he couldn’t articulate the profanity, but his facial expression said it all: scrunched face, mouth agape, one eyebrow up.
“This is Busdriver,” I explained.
“Which bus driver? The one from The Simpsons? Or, the crazy bird lady from South Park?” They countered.
I prefer to see Busdriver as a Ph.D holder who embraces the fact he might have birds living in his afro and shouts at traffic when he gets drunk. If you read Busdriver’s lyrics, it’s so obvious that he’s bright and observant that you’ll look past the fact he might think the CIA planted a chip in his brain.
Beaus$Eros is no country for boom-bap, verse-hook-verse-hook hip-hop. Busdriver’s bizarre delivery and penchant for singing on this album, backed by Loden’s ’80s-pop synth-heavy production, is an acquired taste. According to Busdriver, it’s an album born of failure. Indeed, his old label dropped him after hearing demos of it. So, if people don’t like it, he can’t pull a Lupe Fiasco and blame the label.
Fight through his unique voice and delivery, because there are great things to be heard. Sure, “Ass to Mouth” might have one of the most NSFW hooks in recent memory, but it’s still the wild and thought-provoking Busdriver that you’re used to. While looking for “Ass to Mouth” lyrics in Google remains one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done (the horror…), it’s an example of him being at ease moving between the fun and irreverent like “Bon Bon Fire” to the heartfelt “Kiss Me Back to Life”.
The pulsating “NoBlacksNoJewsNoAsians” is Busdriver in his political commentator wheelhouse. He’s going through a numbered list of what he’s burning on, be it, the failure of the two-party system, Google giving out coordinates of sex offenders in your neighborhood, or the Applebees’ coupon hole-puncher.
The album’s initial inaccessibility is washed away by the second or third listen, and a lot of that credit goes to Loden. The shrill crescendo at the end of “You Ain’t OG” is a chilling end to the ’80s pop sound of the rest of the track. And, the dreamy “Picking Band Names” ends similarly, with a 50-second instrumental that’s beautifully chill. Loden would have made a killing in the ’80s, but we’re blessed to have him produce this album instead. It also takes a few spins to pin down Busdriver and be able to catch or understand what he’s saying, which can be an effort between the singing and his unorthodox delivery. But, creativity and originality are abound in Beaus$Eros, and coupled with Budriver’s obvious passion, the album is unlike anything else floating around. It’s not flawless, it’s not perfect, but it’s unique in a good way and in this cookie-cutter era that counts for something.