Mental Combat issue 870
Monday, 6 August 2007
An eight-year gap between releases for any crew is quite something, but somehow New York’s Polyrhythm Addicts have managed it, despite the many changes within their ranks. Their debut album Rhyme Related came out in 2000 and made an impact amongst true school heads, yet they failed to follow through and disbanded, but have now reformed for this latecomer Break Glass (Babygrande/Shogun).
While one of my favourite female emcees Apani B is working on her second solo album for release later this year, we find out that her position within the crew has been replaced by Tiye Phoenix. From memory it was on the UK outfit The Runaways’s second album Progress in 2000 that she first came to attention. Thankfully I can say that she is more than a worthy successor to Apani by holding her own, especially on the classy sounding choruses.
Now that I’ve managed to highlight one member before I’ve mentioned anyone else, let me say that DJ Spinna is the man behind the music once again and that the other original members Mr Complex and Shabeem Sahdeeq do return to fill out the foursome. Mr Complex has always been another favourite emcee, so I’m glad he decided to reform the crew after Sahdeeq finished his two-year stint in prison. It wouldn’t have worked as well if Spinna hadn’t been involved, for he’s one of those beatmakers who knows that less is more, yet still manages to create his compositions with just the right amount of instrumentation to keep a track sounding complete. I love his exquisite soulful approach that stays away from any hint of pop mechanics. If you don’t know the man, then prepare yourself for a massive back catalogue that stems back to the indy explosion of the mid-‘90s.
Lyrically it’s straight classic hip hop at its best. I really don’t care that there are no high agendas to be overly conscious or to chant the overplayed ‘real hip hop’ cliché. They are just emcees having a good ol’ rappity rap and me likes it. Quality emcees could talk about buying milk I’d still listen. Now I’m not at all saying the lyrics are empty headed, for they aren’t, but I can’t be arsed explaining the topic of every track. Though I will tell you that Pharaohe Monch, Planet Asia, Phonte (Little Brother) and surprisingly Large Professor are four well-known artists who contribute with some delicious input. Considering that three of the members were down with the Rawkus label at various times, you’d be correct in assuming that Babygrande have been adopting a similar vibe with the type of artists they have been adding to their roster.
FOUR DAYS IN GENEVA
Let me say from the get go that yes, I’m one of those tosspots who utters ‘I’ve been there’ whenever I see a city on the screen or in a magazine that I have visited, so it was with my great predictable nature that I uttered the same phrase to the neighbour’s cat when I opened up the package that contained Four Days in Geneva (Creative Vibes). The concept behind this little beauty is intriguing. Seems as though Ohmega Watts, his former Lightheaded crew member Braille, Surreal from the Sound Providers, and DJ Idull were all travelling through Europe, but when they had a few days to kill in the French speaking part of Switzerland they decided to make use of their time. Ohmega went second-hand record shopping, created some tracks from the sampled vinyl after hooking up with local hip hop head Yann (a.k.a. Sunny G) and his studio. They proceeded to churn out enough songs to make this 32 min EP of sorts with excellent results. Pretty damn good, with all things considered. Though Omega Watts seems to have talent by the bucketload, so it was bound to be quality even if it was made with a hessian sack and some raw potatoes. Of the 13 tracks, seven are full length and the rest are musical interludes. Many of the songs refer to their time in Geneva, so it becomes a sonic postcard that they have basically shared with their fans. Another Lightheaded member turns up on Pass the Mic to Othello, but press play on their thank you track Au Revoir and you’ll be convinced that their time was well spent. I thoroughly enjoyed their adventure. Now where’s that passport-