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IN LIKE FLYNN (2004)
In Like Flynn - Click to view! "In like the white guy from LA Symphony" doesn't really have much of a ring to it, but that may be the way you know of Flynn. Possibly you know him as the former pro skater from Indiana? Then again you might think Flynn is the used cars salesman down the road. Toss all of those pre-conceived notions out and begin your relationship with In Like Flynn, the hot new release from Flynn Adam Atkins.

Your first glance at the track listing may excite you enough to squeal like a little girl who has just hung her first Paul Wright poster. While there are sixteen tracks, there is not a single interlude, skit, intro or outro, all of which are staples on most hip-hop discs. The lead single "Love Is Dead (When)" starts the album off right as a synth driven party track. Despite the song's speedy punk-rockish feel, the content is quite the opposite: declaring that when love, faith, and hope are dead, we lose all purpose and spiritually die.

Only real life issues are discussed here; no "pimpin," big drug deals or Cristal sipping. "Superstar" tackles the struggles of maintaining artistic and spiritual integrity in an industry that at times seems to require neither. Observe:

"Go read a book, say a prayer or raise it up
You're not the king so don't expect me to praise you up
You like what you like you are what you are
I guess money moves you, you little superstar
Direct the program and no man's in without you
Push all the right buttons and you tell em what to do
Aligned with the stars and the major executives
Fame and fortune is now the sedative
Seduce the youth with the flash of the flesh
You once had depth but the quota was met
Once a common struggle but the huddle has been broken
You're dancing in the end zone with the opponent
Serpents in the lounge found with lambs on campaign
Caught in the middle you denied the whole thing
Cock crowed thrice and the mic turned to gold
All in all your integrity was sold"

"Slow Murder" and "Push It Away" both deal with relationships that aren't exactly on the road to happiness. "Slow Murder" tells the tale of a lonely, love-struck Flynn falling head over heels quicker than he would like. When we come to the end of both the song and the relationship we have a understanding that "...before too long these way too strong feelings that I have will get the best of me and eventually I'll collapse." On to the next relationship and a new song. The second verse of "Push It Away" pretty much sums up the whole song:

"Its typical denial of reciprocal smiles
Take a deep breath and walk about a mile and pray
"God, take it away"
Who cares what I felt or how good she smelled
The cards have been dealt and it's a full house from hell
I've lost my head today - I lost my whole game and now
C'est la vie gotta let you be
Better luck tomorrow sorrow and misery
Add it all up 'cuz I didn't want to be
Pushed away"

Flynn seems to have left the days of sample-based music of Louder and Burnt Out behind him. A new keyboard synth-driven sound is now embraced, which works quite well through the whole record but especially on "Triumph," "Odyssey" and "You Want It." Lyrically "Nyquil," "It's So Beautiful" and "It's Like That" all shine. "Freaky Flow" is the only track that merited the fast-forward treatment. "Shut Up!" walks up to the same line but manages to save itself from the dreaded skip.

With all but three songs being exclusively produced by Flynn (Pigeon John hands in "Nyquil" and "Slow Murder," while Flynn co-produces with Chris Plant on "Till We Reach The Top") the record is able to maintain a sense of audio clarity and focused direction. Often with multiple producers you tend to jump around from sound to sound and usually wind up getting dropped between one of the leaps, and that always leaves a bruise.

In Like Flynn will definitely keep the dance floor packed and wigglin' at your next backyard BBQ. All the DJ's should spin "High Speed Car Chase" or "In Like Flynn" to see what I mean. Amazingly, this is achieved without compromising an ounce of spiritual or moral integrity. If you are not accustomed to how hip-hop lyrics flow, you may find yourself straining to grasp the meaning behind the words. Rather than give up, I encourage you to understand the metaphors and message before tossing it out as useless rap. Chock another solid record up for the Symphony camp. The only weak points are the guest spots, not because they are awful or take away from the music, but because they run the risk of making it an LA Symphony album rather than a solo outing. In Like Flynn is a strong record that is different enough to maintain interest and yet familiar enough not to scare you away. Pick it up, enjoy it and you too can be In Like Flynn.
- Josh Weekly
August 2004
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