Radioinactive and Antimc are not alternative rap music; they are the alternative-to-alternative rap music. Just their names say enough about them: Radioinactive, not looking for exposure on the radio and completely comfortable with that understanding, and Antimc, the producer of the group, thus the “anti-MC” tag (he also does not always seem as he takes too kindly to his own emcee).
Radioinactive and Antimc’s “Free Kamal,” therefore, is a 12-track ode to poetry over a beat, a weirdly amusing combination of odd commercial (as in, TV commercials) jingle-like beats, short, even odder lines of poetry, and a duo that resemble what would happen if hip-hop music had been around during the pot-smoking tree-hugging ‘70s. In essence, “Free Kamal” (note that Radioinactive is Kamal ‘Radioinactive’ Humphrey) does just that, in that it frees the emcee from the normal clutches of the standard hip-hop verse/chorus format and results in a free-for-all of poetry and rhythms between R.I. and Antimc. Ultimately though, the twosome reflect the need for at least some structure as many tracks produce an uneven balance of confusing and concise lines by Radioinactive backed up by an outlandish and anti-rap Antimc beat that completely destroys any momentum throughout the record.
Radioinactive readily admits during songs like “Citrus” that, “English is my second language, poetry is my first,” establishing his love for poetry over what is normally thought of as hip-hop music. While this works efficiently during a song like “Citrus,” it spells disaster during “Chop, Chop,” where Antimc seems to be utilizing kitchen utensils, pots, and pans to put forth a fast-paced beat that Radioinactive’s rhymes just cannot match. “The Weight of Secrets” sees R.I. telling the story of secret Egyptian cultures (maybe a first for hip-hop?!) before Antimc drums up a matching ritualistic bongo-beat that grows quicker and quicker throughout the track before Radioinactive needs to rap so swiftly that he and the beat seem to eclipse one another to the point that neither is audible. “Dinosaur Eggs,” again sees Radioinactive having to keep up too speedy of a pace over the beat, a trend that he fails at again and again several times during the record. Antimc even attempts to do two separate production efforts on this track with neither attaining any trace of success (not to mention the odd choice to stop the beat completely, then restart a new one with a long pause in between).
“Free Kamal” also suffers from several clearly avoidable errors in presentation that end up harming the overall product without either member really having anything to do with them. The tracks “Running With Scissors” and “The Physics of Science,” listed as songs number eight and nine on the tracklistings, are mistakenly switched on the actual CD. The quality of the last half of the album also sounds significantly lower than the first half, as Radioinactive’s vocals often dip to lower levels than previously. Both are seemingly easy to spot blotches on an otherwise clean presentation that should have been noticed and changed before the record was released.
All efforts are not lost from Radioinactive and Antimc, however, as they do turn in several solid, if not bizarre and interesting, attempts at producing quality music. The lead track, “With Light Within,” is any absolutely fresh and catchy triangle-laced (yes, the triangle) anthem that plays towards the positive sides of life in a poetic display by Radioinactive that is actually easy to understand, fun, and could be featured in the next batch of Old Navy commercials. “Folding Dirty Laundry” sounds like a song that could transform into a pop song at any time but works well as Antimc makes his only vocal performance of the album on the chorus. And, “First World Justice System” plays as a rebellious anthem with Radioinactive rapping, “Police are breaking down the barricades/ They know I am a witness/ Police are breaking down the barricades/ They’ll be met with resistance,” over a slow, melodic treat from Antimc.
Radioinactive and Antimc’s “Free Kamal” is the furthest that an emcee and a producer can get away from hip-hop music without it marketing itself as a completely different brand of music. While they do not often exhibit a strong sense of chemistry, the pair team up to fight a righteous cause against those who make equally poor decisions when deciding to change hip-hop in order to attract radio play. On “With Light Within,” Radioinactive exclaims, “Don’t be in a clique/Don’t be in a crew/Don’t get pigeon-holed/Have no genre.” Good advice for a person going through life. Bad advice though for a hip-hop group trying to put together an above-average record.