On paper, Socalled’s bio reads like an elaborate art hoax: he’s a producer/ composer/ arranger/ rapper/ singer/ journalist/ photographer/ filmmaker/ magician/ cartoonist/ puppet maker – oh, and Yiddish music enthusiast! – who, for his fourth album, invited 34 collaborators from all ends of the musical spectrum into the studio. As a whole, Sleepover is disjointed – sounding like “Prairie Home Companion” one minute and “106 and Park” the next. There’s a recurring thread of humor and pastiche on many of the tracks, but others stick out as being quite earnest. So it’s difficult to nail a unifying theme. However, taken individually, each song holds its own, and some even stand out. Take these two examples, where the eclectic ingredients come together nicely into a singular concept. The title track is a send-up of ghetto-tech anthems, with none other than Detroit’s own King of Booty, DJ Assault, serving up hypnotic refrains over a frenetic klezmer loop. (The joke wouldn’t be complete without puppets freaking in Socalled’s apartment – so be sure to watch the video.) By contrast, “Work With What You Got” is a positive vibration calypso-hop jam featuring Roxanne Shante and The Mighty Sparrow on vocals that would feel at home on the soundtrack to a feelgood children’s movie.
Sleepover (featuring DJ Assault) from Sleepover (2011)
Work With What You Got (featuring Roxanne Shante and The Mighty Sparrow) from Sleepover (2011)