I am not at all ashamed to express my affinity for one Mr. Tim Fite. Since seeing him open last for Ben Kweller last August at the University of Virginia, I have been mesmerized by the Brooklyn oddball’s eccentric hodgepodge of sounds, ranging from banjo to wind chime, that somehow collectively come together to form some of the most unique and dare I say, brilliant music around today.
In some sense, Fite is a modern day cross between Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, not afraid to discuss the problems of consumerism and politics behind a perambulation of musical experimentation that does as much talking as the lyrics. But then again, the 27-year-old musician is also a rapper and DJ, whose original sampling styles and collage of diatribes helped result in the critically acclaimed Over the Counter Culture. Like his music, he is a man who doesn’t fit into a category, can’t be described with the words you would use for every other musician, every other band, in every other review. Fite is a one-man musical enigma, lacking boundaries and definition, whose originality and ever changing sounds, styles, and vocals have us keep coming back for more. After all, nothing will sound the same, anything and everything is fair game.
Fair Ain’t Fair, Fite’s lastest musical conglomeration, offers a return to the folk styles and cool melodies reminiscent of 2005’s Gone Ain’t Gone. While certainly still full of odd samples and obscure sounds, the album is far less complex and radical than the Brooklynite’s most recent works. The ruckus, Waits-esque nature of the album’s second track, “Trouble,” soon gives way to the a less frantic waltz (“The Barber”) and the uber-catchy, dare I say, radio friendly, “Big Mistake”. Much of this simplicity remains throughout of the album as Fite even goes on to showcase his voice in “Inside Man” and “Yesterday’s Garden”.
Lyrically, Fite continues to shine as his usual satirical rhetoric and clever jargon are present in full force. The first lines we hear from the young musician inform us that “Fair ain’t so far fuckers/Theres folly in the pork fat / The devil needs a doormat / For his dirt,” setting the stage for album full of both humor and passion. Yet like the album’s sound, Fite chooses to tone down the themes, divulging more on morality than political commentary. “Big Mistake” offers feelings of forgiveness, while “Inside Man” looks at the idea of humanity.
For a man who is so hard to classify, a characteristic that without a doubt has become part of his own nature, Fite has opened himself up more than he ever has on Fair Ain’t Fair. The booming of sounds and complexity of beats, have given way to the both vocal and emotional exposure. And while the “no one song sounds the same” nature will likely always remain, Fite has created an album that exemplfiies the growth of not only his beliefs, but his music. For a time, Fite could be described as a novelty, a man who garnered attention solely by the interest of seeing what he’d do next. Yet if Fair Ain’t Fair does anything, it tells us that this young Brooklynite has transformed from an enigma to a misunderstood, musical genius.