"I'm not there to politic," Sole (AKA Tim Holland) writes. "I'm there for the beauty." He's talking about northern Arizona, the area to which the emcee moved in 2006 after a number of years living overseas.
"I'm living really far out in the Coconino National Forest. I've never lived so far out and I love it." Asked about the musical community in Flagstaff, the anticon co-founder is more blunt: "It's the worst place, community-wise, to make music I've ever lived... The band moved out, so I get to have people I enjoy to work with when it's music time, otherwise it's lots of Ranger Rick-type expeditions."
"The band" is Skyrider, an experimental act Sole has partnered with for 2007's Sole and the Skyrider Band and subsequent tours. The pairing may not be as offbeat as one might expect; Sole's vocal delivery meshes seamlessly with Skyrider's music, even more organically than with some of the produced beats on his previous albums.
"In the past I would have to default to a producer's tastes and opinions," Sole explains, "but with the band I can realize the music I've always wanted to make. The sky is the limit." He isn't wrong: the band can summon up backdrops ranging from ominous (the album's bookends "A Sad Day for Investors" and "Stupid Things Implode on Themselves," the latter with unraveling swaths of strings) to minimal and organic ("A Hundred Light Years and Running").
Lyrically, Holland's imagery moves from Jamestown to Barcelona, from limousines to shipwrecks. "You can't be 30 and still make hiphop," he declaims on "Nothing Is Free." As Holland was born in 1977, the question hangs: Is that meant as a statement of purpose, or one of defiance?
"Both," comes the reply. "My purpose is defiance, against gravity if all goes well." And given that his lyric about age is followed by, "You can't kill God with a slingshot," that defiance knows few limits.