Who says that being anti-social for 10 years does not help the development of a person and his or her mind? Certainly not anyone who knows or has heard St. Thomas-born and Boston-bred emcee Insight. And with his new album The Blast Radius, Insight has measured off his area of hip-hop as he waits for hip-hop to realize that they are sitting right on top of a ticking time bomb without even recognizing it.
Chalk full of interesting and different concepts and entirely produced by himself with a knack for the artsy jazzed-up production, Insight’s Blast Radius is a true gem hidden amongst the rubble of Boston hip-hop. Using “The Blast Radius” as an acronym, Insight names each of the 14 songs on the album after the 14 letters used to create the name of the album. What follows is an insightful (excuse the pun) glimpse into the art of creating songs, not just catchy jingles.
The introduction to Blast Radius is the time-based “Time Frame,” which takes listeners on a journey from the invention of the telephone to the first words rhymed over a beat to the present day. Insight’s masterfully quick-paced lyrics compliment the horns and percussion of the production and incorporate a first glimpse into Insight’s habit of using ill cuts in place of a spoken hook or chorus.
The anti-social emerges in Insight on the form of “Bother Me,” an ode to those people that really know how to get under his skin with their constant clamoring for help with something. And that anti-social behavior only continues (only this time in an amazing way) on the incredibly conceptual “Seventeen Emcees,” where Insight does one of the largest posse cuts ever recorded with 17 different emcees rapping. The catch? All 17 are actually Insight rocking the hell out of the microphone through the use of different voices and slangs.
How many inventions of black inventors can you name? Check the historic “Inventors (Black)” and then take a look around at everything that the African-American race has created within this country. Air conditioners, stop lights, clothing dryers? There’s a reason why they call him Insight.
“Store gets robbed, bum gets questioned, Two get arrested, only one learns lesson,” Insight raps on “Daily Routine,” where not even the daily grind of a typical city-dweller gets ignored. And the infectious piano strokes of Insight’s production on “Strategy” combine with guest appearances from A.G. and Edo. G with all three spitting straight fire for arguably the most addictive effort of Blast Radius (“The road to success, I’m taking that route, Don’t front, this type of verse will bring Jay back out!,” A.G. raps).
Even the less stellar efforts (in comparison to others) of Blast Radius pull their weight on the album with Insight and Edan ripping apart the back-and-forth flows of “Unexplained Phenomena” and Insight rapping about the loopy circles of society over a looped-up piano on “Another Cycle.”
For an emcee who claims that much of his life was spent in solitude, Insight sure seems to know a thing or two about society and how to make a group of songs that relate to one another and to other people. Whether tearing apart the microphone (“Strategy”) or coming with an off-the-wall concept (“Seventeen Emcees”), Insight has proved that it does not take Funkmaster Flex to drop a bomb on an album. Hopefully, hip-hop fans will recognize this without needing The Blast Radius to blow up on them.