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Lonely Superstar - Click to view!"Yo, it's the one and only / Lonely / Superstar, filling up my stupid car with some petrol / looking retro..." - Playdough from Ill Harmonics' "What We Do."

Harry Krum's been hinting at it for a long time now. From project to project his skills as an emcee keep getting tighter, challenging those ahead of him on the Soundscan. Unfortunately for Krum, a.k.a. Playdough, there are too many artists to count. In spite of all the work he has done, which includes two Ill Harmonics records and work with Deepspace 5 and Phonetic Composition, he still has not been recognized for the talented rapper that he is. This brings us to Lonely Superstar, a title that Krum gave himself to symbolize his struggle as a starving artist. Undaunted, he takes another kick at the can, this time completely solo. With success (and perhaps his next grocery bill) on the line, Playdough lays himself out for the public on his debut album Lonely Superstar.

Fans of the illustrious Playdough will enjoy the first half of the album which is full of juicy numbers. A soft acoustic guitar opens the album with the track "You Will Listen." With its typical Ill Harmonics sound, Krum gives a three minute message to the listener that this album will be a benefit to all who tune in. He also directs praise for all his efforts to God. The following song, "Seeds of Abraham," has an addictive opening guitar riff and excellent live instrumentation. This song is noticeably more upbeat than any Ill Harmonics tune and is guaranteed to get the party going. The hype tracks continue with the Beat Rabbi produced "5 Cent Needleheads." This track is a testament to the scores of talented Christian emcees still lacking their deserved dollars. "Clappy Valentino" is an old school down beat tune that brings us memories of old Moby numbers. Playdough sings quite well over a guitar sample that sounds too much like the Ill H song "40 Years."

While Krum does most of the producing on Superstar, one of the best guest submissions is from DJ Skillspinz, who masterfully produces "Shadow Dance." This upbeat track features a tight horn sample and a stellar guest verse from Visionaries group member LMNO. The title track brings the beat back to a mid-tempo, neck-snapping pace as Playdough vents his frustrations while clearly stating his intent to remain faithful to his Maker. Jurny Big from the Tunnel Rats guests on "Freedom Fighters." Once again the spiritual message is strong as the two emcees discuss various trappings of life and pray for freedom. Playdough also collabs with Mars Ill's Manchild on "Soul Brothers," (produced by Freddie Bruno) and Fred B adds his skill to "Retract the Feedback." "Retract" is a cleverly crafted song as the old PC team lashes out at rappers that poison the youth with nothing positive to say - relating them to a microphone's feedback. This song is my evidence as I begin my official petition for another Phonetic Comp album.

Playdough is full of wise words and fresh song ideas. One of the smartest is "Mr. Mike R. Phone," a brilliant track done over a mid-tempo break beat. Here, Krum personifies an emcee's microphone and discusses all its uses within the art form of hip-hop. Lonely Superstar's production is also a step up from anything else Krum has attempted. As a whole, the album is an open, honest expression of one of the best emcees in the business. Playdough's diversity ranges from the tenderly sung "Simple 1" to the various interludes including his humorous 2 minute verse "ode to an escort." While there are a couple songs to skip over, Playdough has created a good meal - once again. The deep lyrics and the catchy tunes will have you peeling back the layers of Lonely Superstar repeatedly. Go support the Broke Emcee Foundation and pick this one up.
- Jon Corbin
November 2002
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