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Left Leberra - XRAY3D (2012) [Self-Released] // Grade: B+ Left Leberra is the rapper who includes all the stuff that rappers normally leave out. If rap was OZ, Left Leberra would be a dude advertising curtain removal services. As humble and as honest as an American man can be, is how humble and honest Left is in his music. That's not to say he's a pushover, he's just not advertising what he's capable of. Instead he chooses to talk about what happens to him, how he lives, and how those two things overlap to dictate how he feels and what he imagines. For Left, his reality is more important than your impression of his reality, and so his art is a direct reflection of those priorities. If you can take the time to really connect with XRAY3D you'll find an incredibly thoughtful depiction of intense frustration. That may seem illogical given the subdued, and often laid back tone of Left's music, and I suppose in that way it is. The music is a paradox though because life in the United States in 2012 is a paradox. And Left is able to roll all of that up into his music because he has the multi-faceted mind of a designer (he used to design graphics for US Polo, Notorious, Makaveli, and Phat Farm). For him, it's not about creating a restricted audio artifact that people will identify as RAP MUSIC and latch onto. For Left it's about distilling life into an artistic process in an attempt to gain some distance from, and then re-embrace, his own experiences. Left's superpowers in rap originate from his artistic process. He has a mind and perspective that are geared not towards perception, but the means of perception themselves (there goes that tiny but imperative distinction again). Left doesn't just understand what is there to be perceived, he also understands how perception happens. Thus he doesn't show you a picture of rap music, instead he leads you down a path replete with potent events that will fill your ears with the sound of art. And those sounds are the sounds of rap, but association with a nomenclature isn't a priority because Left is too involved in the intricacies of his work. He knows how subtle changes in the bigger picture can amount to a world of difference. And so, when Left departed down the path to creating this record he didn't have his eyes on anything except for what is all around him. And from the moment you turn on XRAY3D that is clear. It's clear in what he does, but moreso in what he doesn't do. You won't hear any of the contemporary signifiers for rap music. No gunshots here, no Lex Luger beats, no incessant adlibs, no club track, no party track, and so on. The parameters that define XRAY3D can only be identified once you've listened to the album a few times. You're not gonna know what to do with it as soon as you turn it on. On the album's opener Left and his sister Stash Marina give a robust guide to Left's worldview. Left is not exactly thrilled by the world around him. Understandably so, but what Left doesn't say is how his perspective differs from a lot of folks who are unhappy with the world around them. He isn't complaining and whining, he's merely working out the problems of a contemporary life in a vocal fashion. For Left the two biggest concerns are apparently women, and socializing. And they come up again and again. But that's certainly not to say that it's repetitive. Far from it. Left Leberra is an amazingly talented gentleman. His capacity for making art is rivaled only by his capacity for observing and understanding the world around him. His music is an apt summation of his struggles as a person. It's not easy being alive in the United States right now. We're all born with a massive negative balance in our karma accounts, and ever day of our lives is poised to drive that balance further and further into the negative. Gone are the times when living a modest life in your community, and doing good to others was enough. For us, we're born into a world where the consumption of goods perpetuates the suffering of individuals whom most of us will never see or meet. People in other places live meager and impoverished lives so that we can be born into freshly anointed cribs and color-coordinated blankets. And from there our karmic balances plummet. That is the plight of the citizens of the United States of 2012, and so it's not easy to see why Left is afraid to leave his house, and wishes to refresh it all. He isn't afraid, he's just apalled.