Victor Vazquez, aka Kool A.D., is hard to pin down. Much like his former group, Das Racist, it’s hard to know how serious he is, even though the talent is clearly there. For that reason, Word O.K. is sort of great and sort of maddening.
It’s so clear that Vazquez loves rapping. He has a knack for wordplay and inner rhymes. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to want to try too hard. The appeal of his music has always rested on his lackadaisical flow as he delivers his knotty rhymes and the ultra-chill beats of his producers. At one point on Word O.K., he even says, “This is just me bullshittin, I ain’t got shit to say.”
Maybe he doesn’t have a point, but he puts whatever he’s saying so well. It often sounds like he might be making it up as he goes along — just a natural spring of puns, twists of phrases and rhymes in unexpected places. His primary accomplice, Amaze 88, makes beats that match that style well. They’re a little lo-fi, with atmospheric keys, laid back drums and jazzy horn interruptions. Toro y Moi’s Chaz Budnick, a natural choice, offers up his own spacey stuff, in addition to an old school hip-hop beat on “The Front,” maybe the album’s best track.
The title track says it all, and not just in its half-committed, half-shrugging title. It’s got all the aforementioned chilled-out production and Vazquez rapping about anything and everything, deftly yet lazily. Or maybe Word O.K. is really summed up on “Life & Times”: “I don’t fucking know man, I’m rapping.”