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December 2003

Carl Hancock Rux
Apothecary Rx
Giant Step Records

In the late-'90s, spoken word artist Carl Hancock Rux was hailed in some corners as one of the most important new artists, one who would help usher in the new century. He's made some noise here and there but has yet to deliver on the promise. His sophomore effort, Apothecary Rx (Giant Step), isn't likely to change the situation.

Spoken word albums have always been difficult to pull off because you can't rely simply on the prose; the delivery has to be just as effective. Also, you can't slip on the music, either. Artists such as Ursula Rucker and Rich Medina are ingenious at cushioning their powerful messages with alluring music; but oftentimes on Apothecary Rx, Rux finds himself competing with his fussy soundscapes simply to be heard. The noisy "Eleven More Days" is more artsy than artful, while "I Got a Name" amounts to hardly anything more than rants. When Rux delivers his prose in his more engaging sing-spoken baritone voice and pairs down the sonics, as on the skulking "Protean Character" and the theatrical, down-tempo tune "Ground," he allows room for his thought-provoking themes of alienation to be truly heard. JT

Originally published in December 2003
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