The long-in-coming solo record from the Pharcyde exile culminates in “What’s Up Fatlip?” a piano-powered track (with accompanying Spike Jonze video) in which the “emotionally scarred” MC pretty much falls to pieces on record. “Who am I kidding, who am I foolin’ when they say ‘What’s up Fatlip?’ and I say ‘Coolin’,” he rhymes over a beat of piano-twinkling sadness, and you kind of want to give him a bowl of tomato soup and a stuffed koala or something.
Unlikely-verging-on-uncomfortable openness is the order of the day on “Thelonelist,” which finds Fatlip spitting gravel-voiced raps on the state of his relationship with his ex (“The Story of Us”), generally rejiggering his brain back into place (“Today’s Your Day,” featuring Jurassic 5’s Vader-voiced MC Chali 2na) and what the hell he’s been doing for the past the five years (“Writer’s Block” — there you go).
But lest this sound like a whiny emo nightmare, Fatlip resuscitates the always-welcome Humpty Hump on “Freaky Pumps,” a track set in a strip club, ostensibly because the Burger King bathrooms were all taken. And like Mr. Hump, Fatlip’s beats bring back the ’90s too, not to the Pharcyde’s jazzy stuff but more his label’s earliest material. With their smashing snares and big, radio-ready piano lines, these are the logical extensions of something Tone Loc would rhyme over. Stronger than not and off-kilter enough to remain engaging even when the skits come on, “Theloneliest” might not have been worth a five-year layover, but it’s weird and wide open.