Blaze initially resembled just another fat white guy and reformed school bully in clown paint, pulling faces for the camera in an effort to sell an overcompensating Nightmare on Elm Street schtick as a substitute for the sort of actual experience from which less demographically blessed rap artists might draw lyrical inspiration; or that was how it sort of looked to me back in 2001 when the first version of 1 Less G in the Hood came out. On the other hand, I didn't entirely trust this, my own impression, being as it sailed a bit too close to the sort of bollocks I had read and sneered at in The Source. Blaze was obviously white, and for all I know maybe some law degree at Harvard hadn't quite worked out leaving just the gangsta rap and the misogyny, but then just about every other rapper out there has been subject to a variation on such accusations of dubious authenticity, and such Cromwellian reductionism ultimately leads down the road to people who will only listen to music recorded by someone you've never heard of who once cleaned Kool Herc's windshield at an intersection in 1978 and who never actually recorded or released any music because that would have been selling out. This leaves us with just the CD by which to judge the music.
As it happens, 1 Less G in the Hood is pretty damn convincing, whatever your reservations. Musically it's a long, long way from the rap metal one might expect, barring an occasional smattering of riffage, and most of these beats wouldn't sound out of place on a Westside Connection album, slow grooves swaggering along in the California heat - or I suppose the Michigan heat in this case - soulful and yet faintly menacing, roughly akin to threats made by a guy who is probably in too good a mood to carry them out right now. Lyrically Blaze sounds at least as pissed off as Ice Cube has ever been, although the subject matter verges into surreal territories given the living dead persona, which handily performs double duty as a metaphor for the general shittiness of life under certain economic conditions. So this be some cartoon shite, but it works because the guy quite clearly means it - is what I'm saying here, and it's hard to keep from being swept up in the angry bounce of the beats. It probably won't please those rap purists whose true school authenticity is of such burning vigour as to have been distilled down to just the essentials of that David Toop book and a Public Enemy album purchased for ₤3.99 in the Our Price closing down sale whilst feeling a bit edgy, but fuck 'em; or Blaze is Necro but better, if you prefer.