There’s a case to be made that Providence hip hop artist ToadStool has gotten to a level to where he’s one of the most prolific artists in all of Rhode Island. This case can even be made for the rapper’s standing within the New England region as a whole. Not everyone can say that they have nine albums under their belt, but Mike Jencks can make that claim through this artistic endeavor. His latest installment is “Labthrashr”, which he self-released on January 27 via all streaming platforms. The album pays tribute to vintage monster flicks and ‘80s horror motifs with these aesthetics being echoed via the beats, rhymes and samples.
Along with the music, this theme is relevant in the album cover featuring a classic visual of Frankenstein drawn up by the art platform Pulp Prints, Portland, Maine based poet & rapper Myles Bullen and local prog-soul act Bochek in a collaborative effort. It also signifies a slight change in vision for Jencks pertaining to where he wants to take his craft going forward.
“I am the mad doctor here,” He says about the record. “The hard cuts and stitched edits on the album are intentionally there to symbolize the stitching up of a crazy body to make this monster known as ‘Labthrashr’. This is one of the first projects that really feels right and is the absolute direction I should be going in. Whether that translates with other people, I don’t know. For me, it was a very fulfilling project and I hope people can see that, and see the change I’m going through right now.”
Those cuts and edits include a wide variety of samples from the talk shows “The Late Show with David Letterman” & “The Dick Cavett Show”, the Mel Brooks film “Young Frankenstein” and horns & orchestral elements. Together these convey a multi-dimensional structure that goes along with the “stitching up” while maintaining a distinct cohesiveness. The latter is apparent due to Jencks’ rhyming skills, his stellar delivery and the overall arrangements of the songs. From start to finish “Labthrashr” is an excellent album. Out of the nine records in the discography, this could be the best ToadStool release yet.
“Please Welcome” has some of those samples I just mentioned starting it off as a nod to experimental singer-songwriter Tom Waits comes in towards the end. Those horns are evident within “Synapses” over a steady beat and a flow that Jencks rides throughout the whole song. I love the beat in “Frank”, it hits hard with genuine emphasis while establishing an edge that only Jencks can forge. “Chemical X” has a synthy vibe going on that provides a departure from the rest of the album. Other highlights include “Beaker Breaker”, “Sajak”, “Yung Dctr” and “Rejector” which features Jencks’ Toad & The Stooligans bandmate and frequent collaborator Dan Pomfret lending his rhyming talents.
Like I said at the beginning, you can give “Labthrashr” a listen via your favorite music streaming platform to check it out. If you’re the cool type who actually likes to purchase music, you can buy the album digitally via ToadStool’s Bandcamp page at xxxtoadstoolxxx.bandcamp.com. To keep tabs on what Jencks has going on in the future, follow ToadStool’s Facebook page and give it a like at facebook.com/LLStoolJ. Now you should go give “Labthrashr” a listen. It’s really good hip hop that’s ideal for both the purist and the novice.
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