Mr. Complex
Thurs March 7
Tonic Lounge

In 1995, Mr. Complex self-released a 12" track called "Against the Grain." It mixed scrappy deejaying, a drumbeat with an easy flow, and Mr. Complex' high-end, super-clear, confident raps, and frankly, the song still sounds dope. It put the Brooklyn emcee on the map and prepared him for the success he'd enjoy with his equally easy-flowing single, "Why Don't Ya," and subsequent collaborations with rad cats like Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Apani B. Fly MC (in their crew, Polyrhythmaddicts), El-P, El-Fudge, and more.

Mr. Complex is revered for the fact that he's been very independent throughout his career, putting tracks out mostly on his own label, Core, and having originally started out in the word-of-mouth, tapes-on-the-streets tradition. But the best part of Plex is, of course, his skills as a rapper, filmmaker (he has a degree from the New York Film Academy), and all-around talented man.

Mr. Complex is one of those guys who rhymes through the beat conversationally, whose mouth wraps around the words with a swanky flow. Though his enunciation is clear and slow enough to understand every word, Plex swaggers through each line effortlessly. His rhymes are largely about what a dope rapper he is, how he's taking hiphop to another level, etc.--what else?-- but it's the way his cadence is broken up with consonants jutting from his easy rhyming that makes him so great.

On "Stabbin You," he rhymes, "You're in the Mister, Mister Complex/ I'm so compelling/ and ooh ooh ooh/ I'm telling/ I'ma drop a dime in the rhyme/ a penny in the well/ Shit you not, I'ma really tell/ I'ma drop a quarter in the water, it's a slaughter." He speaks with cut-up diction and staccato cadence over jazzy sax samples--undeniably in the great true-groove tradition of hiphop that hasn't gone pop. Mr. Complex has got the easy flow, the groove that pulses, and it'll make you feel good.