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Young Miss America

Gold Chains
Young Miss America

Topher Lafata has made a name for himself quickly, blowing two over-the-top EPs out the doors in the past two years as the larger-than-life persona of Gold Chains. Young Miss America is the latest release from the laptop hip-hop wunder, and although it treads the same ground lyrically, it's leaps and bounds beyond anything he's put out musically to date. With the help of Mr. Kit Clayton on production and construction, it's easy to hear that the two absolutely cut loose and pretty much let anything go, but instead of ending up as something unlistenable, it's mostly inventive and catchy as hell.

That is, to say, if you don't mind the nearly ever-present vocals of Lafata. His two-pack-a-day gruff vocals hit from all sides, and they're probably the first and last hurdle to overcome when listening to Gold Chains. "Code Red" opens the album and offers a mini-treatise on society, along with a call to get down over the top of everything from wanky jazz keyboards to cut-up horns, juicy guitars, and a thumping beat. It's stuttering, but seamless, and "Several Times Defined" just keeps things hopping with another goofy keyboard melody, bursts of organ, psychedelic passages, and choppy beats. Lyrically, it's classic Gold Chains, as he brags about buying priceless paintings and crusing the world in style, occasionally dropping off into a hilarious take on the Beach Boys.

The front-end of the album is pretty much packed solid with sure-fire singalongs. "The Game" is a great funk-step track with piano and spluttering electronics while Lafata drops groaners like "you look so cute in those Gucci boots / Prada scarf wrapped around that Cali cooch." Booty reworked is still booty, and he keeps the living-large lifestyle flowing on "Much Currency Flows," even though the overlong track drags the middle of the disc down into a sluggish funk (not in a good way).

Fortunately, that track is followed by what is easily the best track on the entire disc in "Nada." Mixing Bollywood strings and vocals, orchestral hits, blasting percussion, and punchy call-out vocals from Lafata. Musically, it's one of the most dramatic tracks that I've heard this year still, and it gives some well-needed zap to the mid-point on the release. From there out, it's somewhat hit-or-miss again as the title track of "Young Miss America" takes a more standard electro-booty bend, while "Citizens Nowhere" even throws a romping guitar stomp in on the juicy beats. At 50 minutes, it runs a smidgen on the long side, and even the rather inventive music finds itself bogged-down a bit towards the end. Lafata likes to mix a bit of politics in with his bling-bling lifestyle, and it mostly gets overshadowed by the sex and money (which is sort of ironic in itself), and because of that Young Miss America still ends up on the party side of the spectrum. It's one of those releases that I can only handle in small doses, but it's fun while it lasts and I'm in the mood.

Rating: 6.5