While you've been busy forgetting he exists, Democratic hopeful Tim Ryan has been busy recording his debut album, A New and Better Agenda, 10 tracks of policy proposals and political jargon set to the electrifying, genre-redefining sound of… literally no music at all. The 30-minute LP dropped last week, but for some reason, he didn't announce it until Tuesday, and it took an additional two days for basically anyone to realize it had come out, because again: No one is paying attention to this man. He won't be on the Democratic debate stage Thursday night, given that he isn't polling above 2 percent and hasn't ginned up donations from at least 130,000 people.
But that isn't stopping Tim "T-Money" Ryan (a moniker we have unilaterally decided to give him because he is too lazy to come up with one himself) from putting out a mixtape. Partially out of pity, and partially because we here at Noisey believe in giving unknown artists some shine, we decided to undertake the grueling, difficult task of reviewing A New and Better Agenda, which, unfortunately, required us to listen to the whole thing.
opens, naturally, with "Intro." You'd hope the track might hype listeners up for the rest of the album; maybe the producer would blast an airhorn and toss in a few "D-D-D-DJ
"s while Ryan shouts stuff like "Wassup America it's mothafuckin' T-MONEY, we boutta change the course of MODERN DEMOCRACY up in this bitch, brrap brrap BRRAP," etc. Instead, we just hear Ryan talk, in the same monotone a pilot might use to let you know that you've reached cruising altitude, about who he is. It is, quite literally, an introduction:
Hi, I’m Congressman Tim Ryan. I’ve been a member of the United States Congress for 17 years, serving a district in Northeast Ohio that includes the city of Akron and Youngstown, uhhh, and Kent, and Warren, kind of halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh…
It just goes on like this, for a full 55 seconds. Maybe things heat up after the intro, you find yourself thinking. Maybe the beat is about to drop, and we'll get to hear this guy rap. Unfortunately, this is all you get: For the next 30 minutes, you will be listening to Ryan speak, without a single shred of music behind him, about things like education (on "Education"), regenerative agriculture (on "Regenerative Agriculture"), healthcare (on "Healthcare"), and gun control (on—you guessed it—"Gun Control").
ANBA is essentially a series of missed opportunities. Ryan has the raw material to put together some heavy-hitting bars; he just doesn't capitalize on it. On "Education," for instance, he says "fight or flight mode," like, four times. That could've been a great hook! (Think "Beast Mode," but for physiology.) On "Climate Change," he drops the phrase "bust up the big monopolies," which he could've easily adapted into a remix of Blueface's "Thotiana": Bust up, big monopolies (bust up, big monopolies)! On "New Industrial Policy," he starts to build some real rhythm, rapidly chanting "OLD coal, OLD steel, OLD auto, OLD textile"—but then he fucks the whole thing by going back to talking about his plan to appoint a chief manufacturing officer, whatever that is.
ANBA fails as an "album"—a term that implies a collection of "songs" with at least a passing resemblance to "music"—but perhaps it succeeds in other ways. Given the fact that Ryan's words are delivered so blandly you can barely register them as speech, it could make for great background noise, something to put on while you work, or fall sleep, or meditate. Maybe it would soothe a fitful baby, or give your dog some company while you leave her alone to go grocery shopping. But make no mistake: This is not suitable for standard human consumption. It is unsafe to listen to while you are driving, or operating heavy machinery; it will lull you to sleep, leaving you liable to do irreparable harm to yourself and others. It is somehow so bad, so boring, so unpalatable, that if it is listened to at all, it must be listened to with caution.
If that sounds like your kind of thing, go crazy! T-Money could certainly use the streams; as of this writing, nothing on ANBA has broken 1,000 listens. But hey, who knows: Maybe this record is going to take him all the way to the White House. Every musician deserves to dream.
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