Joe Scudda's Statik Selektkah-helmed mixtape, Not Your Average Joe, opens with a clip of the 20th-century British philosopher Alan Watts speaking on the ills of conformism. "Watch out for it," Watts warns. "It turns in a quick click into fascism ... because of its terror of the outsider."
Immediately afterward, Scudda's Pabst Blue Ribbon-emboldened id sends him from the reserves of sideshow, guest-verse rappers to the ranks of full-duty emcee. Scudda's fluid and bullish here, his agile, tough inflection pushing him beyond the position of an emcee who sounds as if he's reading from a book of completed Rap Libs. Aside from the many references to womanizing and partying like the ones heard on "Robert Downey Jr.," Scudda gets down to business, handling rhymes that aren't quite complicated with a never-been-here-before enthusiasm that's hard to deny. "But you would get hurt/ laid down in the dirt/ everything I jumped on, I mothafuckin' murked," he grunts on "Catch Up." "Put the game on alert/ I treat the track just like a meal/ I eat it and chill/ and wait for some dessert." None of this stuff is complex verbiage, but over this Statik Selektah standout, Scudda's lyrical wizardry (or lack thereof) is probably the last thing you'd mourn.
Aside from some of the usual suspects, Scudda enlists some international help (through Twitter, no less) for songs like "I'm Gone," "Playing With Me" and the righteously titled track "Stoopid Dope Moves." Produced by Britain's Beatnick Dee, the number arms Scudda with a dire beat for his half-crouching, cocky-tiger stance. It might not be the best look, but it's certainly an ambitious one, fitting for a sideman's debut that's been a long time coming. The terror was always there, it seems. Now, we get to see if he can use it.