T.J. Miller found himself on many “comedians to watch” lists the last few years as well as starring in some major motion pictures. One he was in every scene but you may never actually have known it was him (Cloverfield) and one where he went out and auditioned opposite a real bear to get the job (Yogi Bear).
When it was first announced that Miller was to release a new comedy album, many expected a stand-up album but then got word he was going to release a rap album. People seemed split into two camps about the album; it could be entirely awesome, or pretty hokey. So does Miller score The Lonely Island or does he end up Dirt Nasty? The long and the short of it is probably somewhere in between.
The Extended Play E.P. is a hodgepodge of everything hip-hop. Miller brings in skits, guest comedians, actual hip-hop players (Ugly Duckling) and hell, even some family members. The resulting album is an un-EP-like 41 tracks casting rap battles, dropping beats about his hometown, and shouting out his favorite doctor. He also manages to lampoon other popular musical styles. There’s a Ke$ha-esque song as well as the auto-tuned rap/sung collaborations. I’m currently in a situation where I have to listen to a lot of commercial radio and trust me, those tracks in particular could be wedged in between a few of these radio playlists without much hesitation.
The album does have some head-scratching moments, with Miller rambling off seemingly random words like, “ankle fat,” “tender foot,” and “balsa wood.” These track titles suggest inside jokes, but they seem better fit for a soundboard.
The strongest tracks on the record are the battle tracks and appearances by other comedians, for they both give Miller someone to play off of and trade barbs with. Doug Benson shows up as a voicemail recording and Pete Holmes offers a terrifically witty and acerbic dis track. But it’s perhaps Bo Burnham who is the most at home guest on the record; an album like this is completely in his wheelhouse and he effortlessly trades wits with Miller on not one, but two tracks.
Other strong moments on the album are when T.J. tackles topics he knows – his home city of Denver, movies he’s starred in like Cloverfield and Unstoppable, and even himself. The track that bears his namesake seems jumbled at first but gets better with further listens because so much happens it’s tough to absorb it all at first. In fact, I’d recommend a few listens to most tracks on this record to catch it all.
The Extended Play E.P. will probably not be an album for everyone, in fact, if you were expecting stand-up comedy, you should eye Miller’s Comedy Central special that’s slated to air later this year. But, as a kid that grew up constantly listening to Adam Sandler’s They’re All Gonna Laugh At You CD while shooting hoops in a friend’s driveway, The Extended Play E.P. will stay in heavy rotation for a long time.