Grand Extravagant Entertainment gave me a free copy of this album.
There’s a full stream at the bottom of this post, if you want to listen as or after you read this.
Funkghost is a newish rapper whom I learned of from Dave Tarantino, who apparently learned of him from Max’s reader review of his first album, Ultra-Boogie Highlife. Although that album hit in 2000, the review dropped on Max’s site only 2 months ago, which was about a month and change before the release of Funk’s second album, Caviar Taste. (I won’t tell you how much time I lost trying to write a conspiracy joke for that coincidence.) Go check the beginning of Max’s review of Caviar Taste for some good Funkghost background, because
I’m too lazy to research he wrote it better than I likely could. The short version is that Funkghost is from Tampa, Florida, his first album was apparently dope but is now impossible to find, after that release he disappeared for a long while, and now he’s back with a different, updated sound.
That sound is a lot of things mashed together: some trap music, a little West Coast hip-hop inspired by funk, some R&B, and a good amount of electronic stuff like Daft Punk. That looks like a lot to put into one release, but, for the most part, Caviar Taste cohesively comes across like the sophisticated party that its title implies. It’s the after party you go to when you don’t want to head home yet, maybe because you haven’t found a lady-friend to come home with you, or because more people need to appreciate your new outfit’s freshness before you end its début presentation. Caviar isn’t being served but it’s what Funkghost and the rest of the party goers are reaching for. Metaphors aside, the beats aren’t spectacular but they’re usually good. The mixing of genres works well, minus the R&B, which I’ll get to later.
Funkghost’s lyrics strengthen that cool party vibe with their choice of subjects: an opulent lifestyle and the women who are supposed to come with it. Not too interesting but I used to listen to Puff Daddy so I should be able to deal with this. Unfortunately, while his verses often talk about flash, they have none themselves. His lackluster writing strongly overshadowed his clear voice, slight accent, and deliberate tone. He uses punch lines, a lot, but they’re not clever enough to have any force. And while the beats scream for varied flows, he sticks to the same basic one for much too long. Since the topics didn’t interest me I needed the writing to draw me in and that never happened.
Another, probably more personal, issue that I have with Funkghost’s raps is that when talking to women, he’s respectful of them but when talking about them they’re exclusively bitches. I know that misogyny comes with the rap territory, but I want rappers to at least pick a side. And I may be naïve to have expected consistency to come with sophistication, but the lack of it is made more jarring by the difference between the two songs to women and the rest of the album. Talk That and What You Need feel like clear grabs at female listeners: hyper-generic electro-pop and seductive R&B detours on an album that is otherwise hip-hop. What You Need doesn’t even have any rapping! Funkghost speaks every verse through a talkbox set on Soundwave from Transformers. These songs don’t belong and they make it hard to take Caviar Taste serious. What is this girl-pander doing on a rap album about fly women and clothes?
These songs and some other clear mistakes like Rockin Never Stoppin‘s repetitive hook don’t ruin the vibe but they definitely hurt it. Many of the beats are close enough to my tastes that I could get past the inconsistent sound, cognitive dissonance, and bleh topics, if only the lyrics were better. Never Go 2 Sleep and End of the World come extremely close but still fall short of pulling this off.
Verdict: Caviar Taste failed to make me care about the life it flaunts. I’ve pointed out other problems, but the most damning is that nothing in it excited me. The lyrics are boring and nothing else could manage to make up for them. High-end clothes labels, on their own, aren’t at all interesting to me, but some cleverness could have gone a long way to making me pay attention.
…None really. I probably won’t be going back to this. But you can stream the album below, and there’s a buy link in there if you like it.