Evgeniy Whatevski sounds like the name of a Russian dissident hip-hop artist releasing bootleg albums sneakily tucked into a literal boot leg. You tap him on the shoulder, speak the code word into his left ear, hand him a crumpled wad of rubles, and he pulls an illegal rap CD out of the lining of his fur boot, clandestinely passing it to you tucked into the fold of Rossiyskaya Gazeta. According to his bio Whatevski is indeed a “landed Russian immigrant” but I think for all intents and purposes he’s a Canadian rapper signed to a well known Canadian imprint. There’s no hint of Vladimir Putin or Fedor Emelianenko to Whatevski’s flow.
“Have no fear; Whatevski’s here
Top tier engineer
In the studio with fried chicken and beer
I take a sippy sippy out of my sippy cup then I disappear
I put my greasy fingers on your expensive mixer
What you mean it’s broken now? You can fix ‘er
Ay man what’s up with your good looking sister?
I don’t like your tone, from now on you can address me as ‘Mister'” – “Big Deal”
There’s an impish playfulness to this immigrant turned producer turned rap star along with a voice of experience. He’s been part of the Calgary, Alberta scene dating back to the mid-2000’s that shows in his flows even if he’s been putting others ahead of himself before now. “Cult Classics” is exactly what Evgeniy Whatevski has been doing up until now — grinding and gaining a small but dedicated following. With songs like “Boogie Man” he’s ready to gain a horrorcore audience too. This review comes a week too late for Halloween, but it could certainly be the new entrance song for Marty Wright if he ever returns for another WWE run (to get’cha).
Even though this is Evgeniy’s release he’s actually quite generous sharing the limelight with other people. One of the best is the slow and menacing “Blast Off” starring Touch and Mindbender, featuring over-the-top braggadocio like “I’ll rhyme across the dryest desert/and still take the f—ing Lord as my shepherd/the leper, astral project beats ’til my neck hurt/quantum entangled network.” Even Keith Thornton would have to be impressed.
Stylistically the album is all over the place. It ranges from the minimalistic instrumental “Five Bucks,” to the sing-song “Purple Plumb” with Ira Lee (“all news is fake, all sex is rape”) to the Quasimoto-esque vocals of Project Blue Book’s “Fantastic Planet.” I enjoy the incredible creativity that Whatevski and his friendskis display for over 40 minutes on this album, but it leaves me with a slightly bitter aftertaste of “art for art’s sake.” It’s like staring at a painting in a museum with a lot of loud colors and dazzling brush strokes that doesn’t actually look like ANYTHING. You know it’s art, you know it’s worthwhile or it wouldn’t be on display, but you’re looking into the mind of the creator and can’t discern what he/she/they were thinking making it. That’s “Cult Classics.” It’s definitely art and it’s definitely not for everyone.