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Review - Captain Dan: From the Seas to the Streets

Infamous pirate rapper Captain Dan is back with his Scurvy Crew in tow for another album full of cannons, wenches, rum, and gold. But does his latest adventure live up to past outings, or has the old captain finally run out of amusing chanties to throw our way?

When I was listening to the iTunes previews for the songs in "From the Seas to the Streets", trying to decide whether or not I wanted to purchase it, I was disappointed with my initial 30 second glimpses. They didn't seem to contain those same, accessible, catchy beats that made Captain Dan's version of rap music entertaining even to someone like me, who traditionally stays away from the genre.

Frankly, it worried me. I didn't want to lose my Captain Dan. I didn't want him to turn into some overly serious act, interesting only to those heavily invested in the genre, more a parody of his former self than the genre he was originally taking off of.

Thankfully, he has avoided that fate.

Perhaps some of my initial worry was just a product of iTunes choosing the wrong 30 seconds to demo, but I think there's more to it than that.

After springing for the full album in blind faith that Captain Dan wouldn't do me wrong and subsequently listening to it all the way through, I realized I had been unfair during my preview. I was listening specifically for those overly catchy hooks and, yes, they are perhaps less obvious on the whole than on previous albums.

What's gained in their place is greater variety and maturity (although I hesitate to use that particular term with this group for some reason) in song construction. It's not less accessible, and certainly no less catchy, but it relies less on the overly obvious hooks of yore to achieve its goal this time around.

In another major step forward, more than on either of their previous albums I can listen to the whole thing all the way through without wanting to skip anything - either because of a joke that got tired, a hook that got old, or a song that was just never all that good in the first place. The album is strong all the way through - a notable accomplishment for any band, much less a "novelty" act like this one.

Overall, far from being significant downfall for the rapping pirate like I had at first feared, this is, on the whole, his strongest work yet.

Even the previously abysmal (but pathetically amusing) British rapper is decent this time around. They must have given him some serious lessons, because it's a huge (and welcome) improvement.

This is also the first Scurvy Crew release where no two tracks really sound the same, even on first listen. The variety really is much appreciated. It makes it much easier to play the whole thing from start to finish without getting bored.

Admittedly they do retread a lot of the same themes. I mean, they're rapping about piracy, there's bound to be some overlapping topics now and again. That said, none of the tracks feel especially tired or flat. I already had my finger on the skip button when "Chests O' Plenty" rolled around, threatening another strained take on the "oh, aren't women and prostitutes just dandy" theme that I had learned to skip consistently on their previous two albums. Too much actual rap theming and not enough pirate in those particular cuts for my liking, I guess.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I actually loved the track. Euphemisms and puns abound and plenty of laughs are to be had here. It strikes the right balance between sexy, funny, pirate, and rap, and doesn't stray too far toward any of the individual directions.

I'm not accusing "From the Seas to the Streets" of perfection. I'll probably start skipping "That's How We Row" before too long and I'm already not overly fond of "Diggin' for Gold". Still, the tracks aren't poorly done. They just don't resonate with me as much as others on the album do. Both are perhaps a tad minimalist for my tastes.

A couple of the tracks are modern rap takes on traditional pirate chanties and, let me say, this is a brilliant move. They change up the pace and provide amusing takes on what are sure to be familiar tunes to most listeners.

To even further raise the variety bar, they invited a couple of female guest rappers for "Ladies in Scarlet" to sing about how the better gender experiences life on the high seas.

Overall, wherever my worrying first impression came from, it was certainly a flawed one. This is one captain who has only improved with age. His third album has greater variety in rhymes and rhythms, more polish than ever before, far fewer duds than its two predecessors, and just as many catchy hooks and accessible head-bobbers to draw in those those not into rap that doesn't happen to be fronted by a pirate.

Rap fans, pirate fans, humor fans, and those that just like a catchy beat should not hesitate to pick this one up. Nobody does the buccaneer technique quite like Captain Dan.

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Reader Comments (1)

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March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike

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