Gym Class Heroes - The Papercut (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Gym Class Heroes

The Papercut (2004)

Fueled By Ramen / Decaydence

The way I look at the modern world of hip-hop, there are three very different camps. First, we have those artists groomed by their labels only for commercial success, skating by with minimal talent because of solid beats and hooks laid down for them. You know the type: Ja Rule, Nelly, and Chingy. The other group of mainstream artists are decidedly more talented and subsequently will have much longer careers. This includes Dr. Dre, Nas, And Wu-tang among others. Lastly, we have the world of underground hip-hop. Boasting such artists as Brother Ali, Eyedea & Abilities, and Illogic, underground hip-hop artists often lay down lyrics full of social conscience rather than just choosing to talk about blunts and bitches (not that there's anything wrong with that). So now we have upstate New York's Gym Class Heroes, who reside in the last of those camps.

Gym Class Heroes have laid down a very solid four-song EP entitled The Papercut EP, which serves as a precursor to The Papercut Chronicles set for release in February. Immediately you'll notice this is no conventional hip-hop album, as Gym Class Heroes use live instruments to back up their flow, rather than relying solely on looped samples and beats. You'll find solid guitar rhythms, crisp drum beats, and melodic basslines, all flowing together and laying down an original and solid base for the lyrics to be put upon. At times the instruments swirl, giving off a very spacey feel, such as in "The Boomerang Theory," and other times it's a more bouncy beat, making you bob your head and tap your foot. In addition to the solid musicianship, the flow and lyrics are nothing to be forgotten either.

The EP's opener "Taxi Driver" cleverly tells a story using an entire lot of different band names, from Scraps And Heart Attacks to Midtown; "In between the frowns and scraps and heart attacks / And I remember, I seen her ass in early November on a Thursday / Taking back Sunday for a refund / She shot a wink like 'No hard feelings' / Then she jetted to Brazil." It's quite clever, and it's got a real smooth vibe to it. Singer Shleprock has a sly, clever sense about him that's displayed through the entire EP, each song just as strong and well-structured as the others.

The best example of the clever lyrical play is on the EP's last track, "Makeout Club," where Shleprock tells the story of various encounters he's had with ex-girlfriends; "And after that there was Lisa / You know she had the twin sister Theresa / I bumped into her mad cans gettin' pizza / The greatest night of my life / Shlep killed two birds with one stone." The song has an excellent hook as well, rounding out a very solid song.

This a very solid debut EP from a creative hip hop outfit. Though, being that it's only an EP, it can get repetitive after an extended amount of repeated listens. Just a minor issue, though, on an otherwise quality EP. I look forward to seeing the how the full-length pans out in February, but in the meantime, this should hold you over.