Why? | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Why? is the nom de microphone of Yoni Wolf of the Oakland-based Anticon collective, a loose-knit group of sonic experimentalists weaned on hip-hop but transformed by lo-fi pop. The various projects and groups under the Anticon umbrella vary widely in their methods of reconciling DJ/cut-and-paste culture with folky underground rock. Their voraciousness can be as exhilarating as it is overreaching: Clouddead (Wolf's project with Doseone and Odd Nosdam), for instance, often suffers from overindulging both subcultures. But Why?'s sophomore album, Elephant Eyelash (Anticon), is a double whammy of the positive sort. He's a midwestern suburbanite who developed a highly personal style of rap not predicated on its value as a class or race signifier, but he also outpaves Pavement, managing to sound sincere even when his lyrics are at their most ponderous ("Rain is millions of tiny speech bubbles unused / The collected breaths of mutes / And all our silent exhalations / Where we should've put words"). On paper it sounds like a disaster, but dammit, Elephant Eyelash is funny, surprising, touching, and smart: I'm penciling it in as one of the best albums of the year. Locks and Jiggsaw open. Fri 10/14, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+.

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