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Human CropCircles

Project: LUCID
(self-released)

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Project: LUCID is the sixth release from Kansas City conscious hip-hop collective Human CropCircles, and, as the title implies, the first to be crafted almost solely by Daniel Bartle (alias: Lucid). Like the architectural illustrations that Bartle drafts for white-collar clients at his day job, the 30-year-old's lyrics don't skimp on details. Lucid's a state of mind/Not just a stage name, he raps on the intro track, "Out the Woodwork" (feat. DJ Ataxic). On "Drums Drop (Rube Goldberg)," Lucid runs a lyrical parkour course over a sample from the '70s German art-rock band Can, and his exhaustive, four-paragraph chorus references Einstein and the Trojan War. Keeping pace with Lucid's verbal density is producer JKR70, who paves the record's landscape with pulsing beats and instrumental samples launched like Stinger-missile salvos. The first half of the album is all muscle and hustle, with occasional help from rappers thePhantom, Kutty Slitz and CES Cru (who sound like Lucid paid them in NoDoz). The second half finds Lucid and JKR delving into darker minor-key territory (and sometimes getting bogged down). The love song "I'll Always Be (By Your Side)" sounds like a dirge. But the emotional intensity never wanes, and crooner Clay Hughes' downtrodden vocals on two songs, "Bad Moon" and "End of the Line," help elevate Project: LUCID from side project to fully realized work.

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