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Kevin Lierman - "Sheddin These Skins" (Single) TDRCO-046

Adding another layer of sonic depth to their swelling back catalog, the recent release of Kevin Lierman’s single “Sheddin’ These Skins” by Portland’s perennially groovy Ten Dollar Recording Company is aimed straight at yer cranium. And with a label roster already stuffed full of freaknik boogie, psych skygazing, back-alley dub, and ambient moon landings (to name just a few genres), go ahead and add verbal spitfire to the list. Lierman’s “Sheddin’ These Skins” does just that, with a lowdown stone groove locked in underneath a barrage of playful, enlightened verbiage that listens like so many street-level transcendental cut-scenes, a free form mix of block rock and liberation ethics that’s steeped overall with a sense of grounded earnestness that refuses to take itself too seriously. Add to the mix production duties by TDRCO’s homegrown wunderkind/funk maven Thomas Mudrick, and what you’ve got here is all good in the ‘hood, should you choose to dangle your slang as such.

With an opening shot across the bow sounding off the lines, “A bat in the belfry, the Thomas to the Edison, the promise of medicine and we sheddin’ these skins…”, Lierman casts off into waters unknown, following a spirograph muse that vacillates between opposing poles of front step bravado and zen roshi. The focus here is head space, man, and it’s all about getting more of it, pushing margins wider, shedding skins as it were, and pegging the point of focus squarely on the evolutionary while retaining a guy-next-door-rapping-in-his-basement aesthetic. Which automatically sets Lierman’s meditations apart from hip-hop more drastically attuned to the pleasures and follies of both cash and the flesh, for which there is a time and a place, though thankfully not here. Rather, the content in “Sheddin’ These Skins” is more Quannum Projects than Black Hippy, with an ear out for rhymes and a third eye out for something a little more colorful, inviting the listener to get elevated already.

At its best, Lierman’s flow is at times arresting, jitter-bugging from topic to topic with the agility of a featherweight and enough pack to the punch to pop his game up a few levels, dropping off lines like “…not the road but the people, not the church but the steeple, rocking this shit until these people keeps us all from bein’ evil.” And though Lierman’s attack could be a little more diversified given the track’s total run-time (flows are at times either somewhat formulaic or in need of some ratcheting up), “Sheddin’ These Skins” has enough going on to satisfy up close listening as well as background ambiance for your next backyard soiree and/or mushroom trip. Which is the whole point, seems. Indeed, as Lierman doth protest, “…maybe just float in space a while and take your turn…” And keep an ear out for what Kevin Lierman might have for you next, y’all. (REED BURNAM, Aug 5, 2013)