I hate to say it, folks, but radio has officially hit rock-bottom. Case in point: Ke$ha’s nauseatingly unoriginal single, “Tik Tok,” insulted listeners’ intelligence a record 11,224 times last week. To put this travesty into perspective, consider the fact that not even a Lady Gaga song has been played that often in a seven-day period. For those of us who haven’t been brushing our teeth with a bottle of Jack, however, there’s hope on the hip-hop horizon and his name is Theophilus London.
The immensely talented — and uniquely named — only child of a struggling single mother, London is everything all the winners of those star-seeking reality shows should be. He grew up reading newspapers instead of video game pamphlets and counts Morrisey, The Beach Boys and ’80s electronica pioneers KraftWerk among his many musical influences. In 2008, London caused a ripple in the blogosphere with the mixtape JAM! and its 2009 follow-up, This Charming Mixtape. The collections featured remixes of everything from grungy punk-rock tracks to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
Now, “Humdrum Town,” the assumed single off London’s yet-to-be-announced full-length debut, is making the Internet rounds, and it’s a stunning example of what popular hip-hop could sound like. With rapid-fire lyrics laid over a perfect instrumental mix of synth and swagger, “Humdrum Town” is a slick, focused piece of genre-bending gold. London raps, “I ain’t doin’ this for check or fame” and, unlike with many other rappers, it’s easy to believe him.
“Tik Tok” might be addicting, but so is “Jersey Shore” — and we all know where that little gem sits on the quality scale. This week, do your eardrums a favor and take a hit of Theophilus London instead.
— Entertainment Editor