Our first stop – or our most recent addition, if we're looking at releases chronologically – is a hotly anticipated follow-up from our neighbor to the north, SJ the Wordburglar. Though his contributions to Backburner's phenomenal Heatwave were certainly notable, we haven't heard much solo Burg since 2010's rarities collection Burgie's Basement. 3rdburglar, however, seems more tonic to his groundbreaking 2006 LP Burglaritis. (And if you don't already own that one, fuck you in the neck!)
Like Burglaritis, 3rdburglar opens with a humorous lead-in. I'm not a big "opening hip-hop sketch" kind of guy, but "Pre-Show Routine" kills it in true Wordburglar style. Further, it kicks us directly into gastronomic banger "Croque Monsieur." Next "So Much Time" slows things down, but it's no rap ballad. Funny and funky, it the perfect bridge to the album's first single, epic More Or Les collab "Rhyme O'Clock."
"Fred Broca" finds Burg flexing his nerd muscles, but what else do you expect from a track with a beat cribbed from Scooby Doo that's literally an extended lyrical homage to an obscure G.I. Joe character? Still, it's an ideal example of Wordburglar at his finest, and manages to stand out even on an album of infectious, groove-heavy material. "Sneaky Neighbours" finds Burg and Timbuktu further mining that same brand of musical weirdness, albeit in a more realistic setting. Then "Sufficiently Suffonsified" sees the always verbose burglar of words further stretching his vocabulary above a backing that drips with Golden Age appeal.
We cross over into the album's latter half with flawless comic shop anthem "Drawings with Words." Even in its closing moments, when he adlibs a bit of "Forward Front Facer," the track remains rock solid, and its easily single-worthy in its own right.
Those who picked up The Garthim-Master's Ghosts of Nostalgia will instantly recognize track 9 as "Dude, Where's My AT-AT at?" It says a lot when this song is the closest thing this album has to a weak point. It sounds a bit out of place among the other more cohesive joints, and it loses a few points for being recycled material. Still, this one was admittedly one of my personal favorite selections from last year, so it's impossible to bash it. That being said, it's also a great transition point to the emotionally stirring "Point of Departure," a break-up track that manages to sound earnest without ever losing that frantic Wordburglar edge. The follow-up, "Steady and Stable (Strange Roads)," then proceeds to bring the party back with tons of top-shelf guest MCs.
"Foofaraw" marks the album's waning movement with a Busta (by way of Tribe) sample and a He-Man reference that, when combined, make this track as extravagant as its title. And again, it manages to be a standout among standouts. "Your Friend's Brother" sort of pales a bit by comparison, but it's strong enough on its own surreal merits.
Closer "Yobosayo (Moonbase)" embellishes the classic composition of a chiptune favorite – Duck Tales' Moon level theme – with spot-on production from Fresh Kils and Burg's own slanted sci-fi storytelling. It likewise makes for an amazingly satisfying end-point to what is easily Wordburglar's greatest single effort to date.
While I have high standards for Hand'Solo releases, 3rdburglar is such a thing of beauty that I actually feel a little embarrassed for my mere handful of minor gripes. I mean, it ain't perfect, but it's so damn close that it feels like I'm simply quibbling.
In short, pick it up. You'll be glad you did.
"If you make a mixtape make sure you got a Burg song on it."