The last time we heard from Brookline-born rapper/producer Skipp Whitman, he was ducking an angry ex-wife--not his own, but Richard Pryor’s, perhaps an even scarier prospect. His 2009 mix tape Skipp Whitman vs. Richard Pryor succeed in pissing the ex-Ms. Pryor off for some unauthorized use of Pryor’s stand-up bits, but more importantly it won the attention of listeners who may have missed Whitman’s slick, witty rhymes amidst the sea of free mix tapes that flood the interweb on a daily basis.
A year later, Skipp is no closer to fitting in the glut of rappers spitting adulation on their custom kicks and new cell phones, and thank god for that. His entirely self-produced new album Skipp City (available now on iTunes), as you might guess from the title, finds Whitman creating his own lane over beats flavored with electronic and new wave influences. At his best (“Famous,” “Top of the World”) Skipp finds the balance between honest self-therapy and world-beating defiance (“I’m feeling alone surrounded by people killing my drive, stealing my thunder/but at least you feeling it right?…And I’m on top of the world now”). And when a lighter touch is required, he provides it on “Goodguy,” propelled by a wicked Little Feat sample.
The only major drawback of Skipp City is that it’s production kept Whitman away from the stage for nearly a year, but thankfully his hiatus comes to an end tonight at the Western Front in Cambridge, followed by a second show at Church on December 21 with Nabo Rawk of Wasted Talent.