When he’s proclaiming, “We’re more than a band, we’re a motherfuckin’ social club!” Boots Riley is being metaphoric. On The Ghettoblaster EP, SSSC sounds more like a band than ever before. The guitar is co-active and less dominant, the bass and drums are more essential, but, most paramount, is the improvement of Riley’s delivery which has transitioned nicely from the faded manner he used in the Coup to a more fierce and pronounced recitation that better suits the intensity of the music. While their debut sounded like a project, Ghetto Blaster sounds like a rock band.
Of the three original songs featured on Ghettoblaster, “The New Fuck You” is superlative and features the best hook SSSC has had yet: “Fuckin’ is the new ‘Hey, how do you do?’ and revolution is the new ‘Fuck you!’” “Scars (Hold That Pose)” amusingly showcases Riley’s unique mix of conviction and comedy as he raps about grinding through poverty in funny ways. The title track goes a little limp at the chorus and sounds a little too “Rage-y” (a rare misstep on an album where the guitar work is overall pretty fresh, including a manic outro on the remix of “Prominade”).
The road-tested cover songs on this EP are generally advantageous. Though their take on “Paper Planes” isn’t quite the upgrade that “Momma Said Knock You Out” and their musically organic version of the Riley’s Coup classic “Everythang” is, it still entertains. Just being performed by the politically-minded Boots and Tom seems to alter the context and add depth to the lyrics of MIA and LL Cool J. Why? Because we believe them. -Kevin Madness