We start with 4 dramatically orchestral tracks. Carl Orff (and presumably his orchestra) kick off the proceedings in fine style and gets me well up for hip hop type firey heaters. Jedi Mind tricks come unrelenting and urgently over this beat that would provide a perfect backdrop to a medieval battle, get your shiny armour on now. Australians have made an extraordinarily nice life for themselves considering they are descendents of criminals and they also have a very healthy hip hop scene down under. If you didn’t know Clandestien were Australian you would wonder what the chaff their accent was about, it’s like a Swedish person trying to rap in American via Birmingham. Weird. Weird but good. Check out that third guy; vicious. (Amazing Lyric: ‘Buck Buck Teeth, you rappers sound like you got…’). In an attempt to cut the tension of the CD the last of the first four is 4th Avenue Jones with ‘Why do we?’. A nice radio friendly classical sample here (can’t remember what the original is, my Grandad would know), the only annoying bit is that bird off ‘The Sound of Music’ warbling over the tune. Check out more from the Sphere of Hip Hop collective here.
The next two tracks are just some nice hip hop tracks that don’t rely on snares and kicks. Joell Ortiz, Dre’s latest signing, brings us a piano and string driven reminiscent sounding tune simply entitled Hip Hop, I’m definitely feeling this and I want to hear more. The second is a total headnod piece from Organized Konfusion (Pharaoh Monch and Prince Po back in the day). Large Professor brings the funk on this summery tune, really one for the BBQ here.
Brighton’s own eccentric mentalists Monkey Sons continue the summery theme in a triptych of tracks that are built around horns. This uptempo track cannot be hated on, it’s just so fun and honest. The filling in the sandwich is ‘Pablito’s way’ by Motion Man and Kutmasta Kurt. If you had or heard the Linkin Park Remix album these two hombres did the excellent cut up rework of ‘In the end’. This has a spanish/mexican vibe will have you throwing on your sombrero and sipping on a Corona or a Sol. Mavrik rides in on a similar heatwave with ‘Walk around it’. The highlight of this funky slice of the sun is the big fat horn stab on the 8th beat of each set of 16 beats, it’s almost comical.
Here’s a twosome that will yet again get your head nodding along in a syncopated manner. Motion Man and Kutmasta Kurt provide ‘Confidence’ for your delectation, they should make some waves in the hip hop ocean, so long as they don’t get written off as dross just cos they don’t appeal to those odious chavs.( Plus sampling Chali 2na on the chorus gives them marks in my book). Brainpower, if I remember rightly IS Swedish but thankfully the verse he’s cheekily slipped into this European sounding remix of 'triple trouble' by the Beastie Boys is in his native tongue.
Pigeon holed (on his own?) in the ‘concious rap’ genre is Common (although check HHC this month for the story of his radical makeover). Here he comes as conscious as any man could be by sampling the good Reverend Martin Luther King on, you guessed it 'A Dream'. The track is well produced and is nice for humming along to. On the theme of sampling vocals and in the vein of Baby J and Kanye West, Pigeon John samples some 80’s pop/rock jollity on ‘Weight of the world’. PJ takes on the character of one who tries to conform to the American Dream by ignoring reality and putting on a brave face. This is an interesting little bit of social commentary rapped up (sorry…Bec, you got nothing!) in this fun little track. I can’t tell you how much I want to get my hands on ‘The Weatherman’, the new LP from Evidence (of Dilated Peoples fame). This track, 'All said and done' is what you would expect from someone who had a hand in bringing such classic albums as ‘The Platform’, ‘Expansion Team’ and ’50:50’ to the worlds attention. I’m thinking this is an Alchemist production who is a wiz at building a sample into a hot track and he doesn’t fail Ev here.
Hip Hop is dead. Is it? I don’t think so. There seem to be a lot of MC’s on Nas’s remixes of ‘Where are they now?’ who disagree and are about to prove him wrong. I cannot get enough of these two tracks. Put all the big rappers of today (by big I mean the ones who sell the most and are more widely recognised) on a big posse cut like this and you would get bored so soon. Put all the big MC’s from the west’s past on a track and I can’t get enough of it. Put all the big MC’s from the 80’s on a track and I can’t get enough of that either. The 80’s MC’s really know how to ride this break, putting Nas to shame – I didn’t like the original on the basis that his flow sounded awkward over the JB sample. These tracks induce a huge grin and make me hope some of these MC’s will give hip hop another chance, highlights are too many, the best thing to do is to listen to it all – over and over.
Cool down time again and keeping it old school. Like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest? Get some Digable Planets in your life, put it on your £4.97 mp3 player from Tesco and go skate and reminisce about the old skool days. Kool Keith provides the finale; ‘Voicemail, pagers; these are the things that robots carry’ – ‘I’m seein’ Robots’. A diss track to everyone who follows trends is always relevant as the cool kids are always jumping on something, tackling it, flooring it and rubbing it’s once cool face in the dirt. Take note kids, being different en mass makes you the same as the rest; Robots.