By Team Backbeat
By Amber Taufen
By Jon Solomon
By Tom Murphy
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
By the dawn of the decade, Farquhar had developed a wordy, offbeat, frequently surrealistic style that informs albums such as 2002's Temporary Forever and 2003's The Weather, a collaboration with Radioinactive and Daedelus — and he explored similar territory on Jhelli Beam. He refers to it as "a really zany assault on the senses in the one or two or three particular ways that I do it," and along the way, he doesn't shy away from criticizing the very medium in which he works. Virtually the first words he speaks on the album, at the outset of "Split Seconds," are "Conscious rap failed us," and he doesn't back away from the sentiment. "Conscious rap's role in kind of being the counter-assault against all amoral types of music, it just seems to ring false," he believes. "If you listen to a Common or a Talib Kweli say something like, 'Ah, mainstream rap is poopy,' you can't really take them completely seriously anymore."
Seconds later, however, Farquhar rethinks this statement. "In my own life, I don't really care to make a distinction between any kind of rap. I can't really go about making those distinctions in my life. But for the sake of the album, I said that, which I probably shouldn't have." He also has doubts about the wisdom of following up Beam with another album along the same lines. "I may not return to making records exactly like this one for a while, because they're exhausting, and I'm not sure how rewarding they are for people anymore," he maintains. "They're rewarding for me, but I kind of would like to find pleasure in pleasing other people." Predictably, though, he's uncertain about his ability to achieve this goal: "I could say I want to make it more accessible for people, but I can't necessarily do it that well. I don't think it would come out that way."
Of course, Farquhar's fans understand that his uniqueness is actually a good thing — but at least on this day, he seems to have difficulty recognizing it. When asked what he considers to be his greatest attribute as a performer, he takes a pause long enough to time with an hourglass. At last he replies, "I think it's probably just my ability to rap. I think that's really all I know how to do. Everything else is just hearsay."
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