Once in an eternity an artist will come along who defies all explanations, breaks all boundaries, and destroys all preconceived notions as to what music is. In reggae, we were blessed with the maniacal genius of Lee Perry; in jazz, we had Sun Ra; and in hip-hop no one even comes close to the one they call Sensational.
Hip-hop abounds with eccentric personalities such as Kool Keith, Old Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.), and Busta Rhymes, but Sensational trumps even these colorful MCs with an abstract flavor and a charm all his own. Born into the world of beats as Torture, a name perfectly befitting his dusted productions and not-ready-for-prime-time style, Sens linked up with the world-famous Jungle Brothers when he was only 15. Starting off as a back-up dancer , he went on to prove his mettle on the mic, rhyming to records by the German avant-garde electronic composer, Stockhausen. In fact, Torture's legendary performances on the Jungle Brothers' album JBeez Wit Da Remedy (Warner Bros., 1994), on which he rhymes at 180 beats per minute, are still way ahead of their time. (They may be heard on the Black Hoodz release, Crazy Wisdom Masters (BH006)).
In 1995, Torture came to the attention of WordSound through producer Bill Laswell, who had worked on the Jungle Brothers sessions. It was a match made in heaven as Torture changed his name to Sensational and released his solo debut, Loaded With Power (WSCD022), an album like no other in the annals of hip-hop. CMJ called it, "The most bold and experimental hip-hop record of the last decade," but even this is an understatement. The tripped-out flows, broken beats, and lo-fi ambience all created an epic event in hip-hop that went largely unnoticed by the Puff Daddy-worshipping masses. And to think, it was all created by one man with a four-track, drum machine, and, of course, headphones used as a mic.
Unlike most rap producers, Sensational has never been one to sample, but plays all his sounds live. Upgrading to an 8-track for his sophomore effort, Corner The Market (WSCD032), gave the rapper/producer greater flexibility in recording. He also used a real microphone this time around instead of recording vocals through his headphones. Still wowing heads with his blunted, poetry-in-motion sickness, he released two singles for the popular indie rock label Matador ("Party Jumpin" and "Beats, Rhymes & Styles") before dropping his third full-length, Heavyweighter (WSCD037) which continues on a trajectory for outer space. As Timeout NY noted, Sensational is "underground hip-hop's number one upstart-in-waiting." Sensational's unique style and personality have been showcased in the semi-biographical film Crooked (WSCD041), released by WordSound in 2001. The film, which documents the underground hip-hop scene in Brooklyn in the '90s, became an instant cult classic and is available on DVD along with its companion soundtrack, produced largely by Sensational.
During the filming of Crooked, Sensational recorded Get on My Page for Mike Patton's Ipecac label, before returning to WordSound for his fifth release, Natural Shine (WSCD044), produced and recorded by DJ KLOS. KLOS also produced the follow-up, Speaks For Itself, available on Belgium's Quatermass label, as well as the new mixtape, The Best of Sensational (WSDD002) available as a download only on WordSound Digital. Sensational's latest CD, Sensational Meets Kouhei (WSCD53), is a collaboration with Japan's doyen of noisecore, Kouhei Matsunaga, recorded in one day in Osaka, Japan while on tour in 2005.
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