April 5, 2011

Album Review: Chaz Kangas "A Personal Reference"

Chaz Kangas "A Personal Reference"

Eminem, Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass, Vanilla Ice, Aesop Rock and Asher Roth. Now that I've completed my obligatory references to notable white rappers, let's move on to the album in question.

Hailing from that sleepy little hamlet known as New York City (via Minneapolis), Chaz Kangas comes off as the quiet guy at the party who makes references that he and maybe one other person will get, and that's enough for him. Because the people who do get it, really get it.

One of those people who get it is producer Good Goose, who handles the entirety of the production on A Personal Reference. I'll try to refrain from the cliche "yo, remember when it was one MC and one producer?" but seriously, yo, remember when it was one MC and one producer? This album is a good example of why that formula usually works so well. Goose and Kangas share a vision from the opening "The Critic" sampling "Young, Gifted And Chaz" all the way through to the Homeboy Sandman cameo on "I Think, I Know."

Kangas has likely heard any kind of jokes that someone would be inclined to make about him, and deftly weaves through Goose's party atmosphere production with self-deprecation and an "I'm more in on the joke than you know" delivery. Speaking of which, I'd be remiss if I didn't recognize "Truth N Stuffz", where Kangas and Alaska (recently of Hangar 18 and Definitive Jux) skewer their underground rap bretheren over an annoyingly catchy Disney sample. The outgoing rant will be instantly familiar to anyone who's gone to an underground rap show in the last 10 years or so.

That's not to say it's all jokes n stuffz. Chaz waxes poetic over his beloved yorkshire terrier on "Gary", which in the hands of the less self-aware could be sentimental slop, but here it strikes a chord with anyone who's ever wanted to give their dog a high five. Then there's "Garlic", which serves as an angsty, caucasoidal answer to Jay-Z's "Young Forever."

With assists from the aforementioned Homeboy Sandman and Alaska, as well as Mac Lethal, J57 of the Brown Bag All Stars and Coco Dame (of Good Goose produced Menya), A Personal Reference clocks in at a stealthy 38 minutes. It's music you don't have to think about, but if you do, you're liable to be rewarded by catching a punchline or reference that you'd missed previously.

It's available for a free download at the above link, and is the rare labor of love that doesn't suck or wear out its welcome by the second listen. Chaz Kangas' references may be personal, but his subject matter is universal and deserving of a larger audience. 


  1. Thumbs up! Really dope that you listened and took the time to write such a nice review.

  2. Thanks. I found it refreshing that Chaz and Goose just did whatever they wanted to do, without worrying about samples or trying to make a buck.