Art Vandelay, ‘Eye 8 the Crow’ (self-released)

Seattle rap outsiders Art Vandelay — named for George Costanza’s “Seinfeld” alter-ego — open “Eye 8 the Crow,” with an audio excerpt from David Lynch’s recent cameo on the TV-comedy hit “Louie.” But Mack Formway and Ricky Pharoe aren’t laughing.

Producer Formway uses forceful rhythms and well-curated samples to create a coldhearted, heavy atmosphere, mirroring MC Pharoe’s gruff, indignant missives against classism, religion, the media and, often, himself.

“Death and destruction, two things I’m accustomed,” he spits on the title track. “I know myself too well … that’s why I don’t really trust.”

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Atheist anthem “Eyeballs” questions “What happens when you die,” then answers, “No one knows, live your life … get it right.”

Pharoe doesn’t always, however. The lame refrain of “So What” — “Got that Kurt Cobain type of mind frame” — comes bookended by blockheaded posturing like “All I need’s a shotgun … already got one … works pretty awesome.”

Art Vandelay’s negative, paranoid vibes won’t connect with everyone, but local hip-hop-heads — and cynics seeking grimier antidotes to the Emerald City’s current wave of posi-rap — might want to lend “Eye” an ear.

Charlie Zaillian, Seattle Times freelancer

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