Alias, The Other Side of the Looking Glass (2002)
The Other Side of the Looking Glass is a modest, occasionally dispiriting journey into Alias’ introspection, foibles, and myriad other troubles. “I went unhappy to happy to unhappy once again/It’s a boring mess of sixteen measure sound bites and stretched-out lambskin that isn’t even mine,” he admits on “Jovial Costume.” But, ironically, much of the Oakland-based rapper’s album is engrossing because, like a latter-day Morrissey, he’s candid about his shortcomings, offering mildly amusing putdowns like “Another freshman with no direction/I have nothing but necessities/A soul mate and my cohorts.” Elsewhere, he’s the “Angel of Solitude,” a storyteller who pretends to be “the last one you see before your journey/And the one who releases answers to your uncertainty.” An impressive, if self-deprecating, MC, Alias’ worldview on The Other Side of the Looking Glass is undoubtedly an alternative to the affirmative (if equally self-obsessed) chest-thumping typical of hip-hop music. But unlike too many other melanin-deficient rappers, Alias doesn’t waste time parodying his own whiteness and caricaturing Black culture. He expresses non-traditional feelings while remaining true to his chosen art form. As Alias would say, that makes him “pretty good.” Anticon.