Label:Triangle Sportsmens Pleasure Recordings Release date: 01/05/10 Official Site Rap concept album. Say this phrase out loud, repeat it to yourself, then think about the words that come to mind in relation. What’s there? Hate, ambivalence, excitement, confusion, fear? At least a few of those words are based on your primer for this bizarre sub-genre release. And now Sunset Park Riders (an anonymous cowboy rap group….) have a new disc to offer to this catalogue: Showdown At The BK Corral. It is frustrating, bizarre, irksome, and hard to believe. At times it is too serious to be a joke and at others too jokey to be serious. It is no longer a sub-genre – it is a disease. Let’s look at some good rap concept albums: Deltron 3030. MM..FOOD? Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… The list is short, but populated with discs that are usually labelled as ‘classics’ or ‘defining.’ Most rock concept albums are either labelled the same or called half-baked horseshit, as either seems to work. So when every track is a shit-kicking sample fest with the likes of Gene Autry, what to do? Supposing the listener only has reference with Linx, the answer is “turn the damn thing off.” For those who know Deltron, the answer is “hold on to that glimmer of hope.” And so I did, waiting for something as inventive as a futuristic rap opera about fighting corporations. Instead I was treated with maudlin rhymes and near rhyme misfires about pillaging, riding horses, and too many shout outs to the band to count – it was enough to make an album by Bangs about his hotel’s running operations seem like a reprieve. Now, I took the time to see opinions of this release so far, and one older white gentleman said he doesn’t like rap but liked the idea and (I think) enjoyed one of the songs. As a person who likes rap and understands it, and is a younger white gentleman, I can say the idea is the only strong thing about it. Hell, the band mentions that this is “The World’s First Western Concept Rap Album” on almost every page of their website, Spaghetti Western themed blog, and materials relating to this release. I get the whole “trudging across the tundra of Brooklyn” storyline, I see their devotion to theme material for beats is fastidious and unwavering, I see the signs that this could have been good. Instead I was treated with something akin to what Mr. Show once said: “Shitting in my mouth and calling it a sundae.” When you have three Brooklyners shouting Beastie Boys style for over 20 minutes and trying to make it seem like they wear bandanas and rustle cattle while firing six shooters and swigging homebrew whiskey, the result is a fatiguing journey that would be better suited to the Guantanamo crowd. For those that remember the Sunset Riders game for the NES, this album is almost too much of a flashback. Like Ninja Gaiden or Fester’s Quest, Sunset Riders gained infamy for its difficulty and became fodder for the tool assisted speedrun crowd of the YouTube generation. It’s scarring to remember frustrations from adolescence so vividly when listening to music, especially after laughing at the name for a bit (Sunset Park is in Brooklyn, Sunset Riders is a cowboy themed game, Sunset Park Riders are a Brooklyn cowboy themed group looking to get in the game). After so many tries to like this and so many listens, I feel like it’s a disservice to just scoff at this, but when you have something that makes the ear beg for pleasure so much all you can do is turn it off. There’s a chance that I’ll try this out again in a few months, but first I have to bite this belt, remove the bullet, and sew up the wound. Photobucket