"I use speech to bust rhymes through a concrete wall," raps Boston MC/producer Insight on "Evolve," the first single from The Blast Radius. Insight's music is meant to hit like shrapnel, dousing the ears in horn stabs, rumbling bass, and careening effects. It bears a remarkable similarity to DJ Premier's Works of Mart, but Premier rarely programs his tracks at such high decibels, tweaking the trebles until they become a fizzy, carbonated mess.
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Insight clearly knows how to create a musical Blast Radius equal to his underappreciated debut, 2001's Updated Software 2.5. As a vocalist, though, he divides his tracks into solemn, if enthusiastic, lessons on the art of MCing, hip-hop culture, and sundry textbook chapters. For example there's "Time Frame," where he blends an impromptu history of electronics, complete with shout-outs to Thomas Edison, and a sampling of highlights in twentieth-century black music. Then there's "Inventors," on which he drops a young man into a bad dream, a world without inventions created by black scientists: "He took another step and noticed many things different/Like the filament inside of a lightbulb was missing." Unapologetically earnest, Insight envisions action-packed hip-hop through the eyes of an ascetic.