“Emo” isn’t the sole property of indie rock. B-boys have feelings, too. Check Pete Miserfor proof. The New York emcee, via Portland, Ore., wears his feelings on his mic on his newest release Camouflage is Relative.
Narrative prose — a la Slick Rick — is Miser’s strength. He embodies the hip-hop culture but eschews the machismo posturing that is so transparent in commercial rap. He’s an emo emcee, but he can flip a phrase with the best. On I See You, Miser raps to the object of his affection: “I’m so grimy in comparison it’s embarrassin’ / You got me weak in the knees like Nancy Kerrigan.” Final is like a diary entry about his ex in which Miser tries to excuse his emotions: “I bet this is going to seem a surprise / but I still catch them feelings when I look in her eyes.”
But no track jumps like the opener, So Sensitive, even if — or maybe because — the stuttering guitar loops recall N.W.A.’s If It Ain’t Ruff. This is where Miser flaunts his verbal prowess but bares his soul, too: “Weigh a buck fifty with a backpack / still dumb enough to slap Shaq and tell him he raps wack.” But on the chorus, he opines: “It ain’t easy being me / with all these insecurities / I’m such a sensitive emcee.”
Topped by tight production, Miser is an underground hip-hop gem.