Among the most literate of hip-hop artists, Chris Steele, aka Time, is a seemingly endless wellspring of clever turns of phrase and creatively illuminating pairings of words and ideas. The guy certainly has silly, fun-loving songs, but even these are written with a playful intelligence. Time's true genius can be discerned in his clearly having absorbed and built upon the work of influences as disparate as the Beats, Salvador Dalí, Sole and Graham Hancock. His 2008 album, The Fantastic Reality, suggested transcendence by establishing a parallel culture that embraces creativity and the subversive appropriation of popular culture. The newly released, jazz-inflected Naked Dinner explores the literary possibilities of found writing and cosmic paranoia. A dynamic live performer, Time (due at the Rex Lounge on Wednesday, July 29) has a multi-tiered sense of humor that is sometimes lost on the audience, but his superb songs are unforgettable.
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