Glockamole is a great name for a comedy hip-hop record. There’s clearly a lot of wordplay left in ripping the piss out of hip-hop’s tropes and clichés, but I have to say there are probably not many jokes left in it. It’s a well worked mine, especially gangsta rap, bearing in mind that everything N.W.A. released after Straight Outta Compton was basically a joke. No, it takes more to make a funny hip-hop record than just pointing out how ludicrous hip-hop is, or being incongruously self-deprecating. It requires some comic creativity to raise a laugh in any medium, but luckily for me, I find Fat Ross pretty darn funny.
Various Artists – Singles and EPs
A thin-sounding electric guitar (maybe a Telecaster), an electric piano, filtered through the glitchy sound of dusty vinyl, and looped in incomplete gestures that sound like a needle jumping. It’s the sound of nostalgia, the sound of distance from a desired space that the imagination is better equipped to apprehend than the senses. The uppercut combinations of the kick, when it enters, are located firmly in the here and now. That’s the heartbeat of the subject, the locus of the act of remembering. Such a simple psychodrama between so few musical elements seems a shaky scaffold to hang anything off, but when the female voice enters…
Various Artists – Album Roundup
There’s more than a nod to dreampop and shoegaze in this music, but Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo are clearly too in love with the raw and ragged sound of a distorted electric guitar to tame it to the extent that might imply. Some of Wish You Were A Pony is downright heavy! This is pop music, but not lowest-common-denominator, mass-market pop; it’s pop because it’s all about simple, accessible melodies, infectious, danceable rhythms, lush, inviting soundscapes, and, well… fun.
Various Artists – Singles & EPs
The struggle. It’s a recurring theme in conscious hip-hop from the underground (for much the same reason that a lot of mainstream, mass-market hip-hop concerns conspicuous consumption). Life is hard for young people from urban areas, living with no privileges and few prospects; but here’s a form of art whose practice is primarily accessible to the young urban poor. On the one hand it holds out the long shot of global fame and fabulous wealth, and on the other it offers a powerful tool with which to represent exactly who you are and what your life is like; whichever your long term goal may be, the short term experience is …
Various Artists – Singles & EPs
This three track EP seems to be Septic Trauma’s entire recorded output. A shame, as I could happily listen to a few dozen tunes in this vein. Many heavy rock bands lay claim to terms like ‘technical’ and ‘progressive’, but few have any reason to do so. Aside from the sheer ridiculousness of using a term like ‘technical’ to describe a style of music, most of the metal thusly classified makes no more taxing technical demand on its performers than that they should play fast and stay in time, which quite honestly is something any well trained monkey with a floppy pick can manage.
The Ruby Kid & Dan Angell – Maps (rap/ poetry)
Poetry isn’t the same thing as lyrics; lyrics are not poetry; and rap is neither poetry nor song lyrics. All of these things have their own uses, their own conventions and their own needs. You can take a beautiful example of one, you can use it as the other, and it’s most likely to end up sounding stupid, and failing to convey the meanings it channelled in its native context. Obviously there are exceptions: poems have been successfully set to music (leaving aside the classical tradition, where singers’ texts have fewer idiomatic requirements), and, less frequently, some lyrics have stood up well on the page; rap lyrics are less likely to survive the loss of rhythm, but more likely to work in the absence of accompaniment. Then of course, there are the writers whose works …
Various Artists – Singles & EPs
I’m not sure what Marie Craven is sorry about. Without overcoming my innate laziness and conducting a proper analysis of the lyrics, it’s hard to say whether she’s expressing regret, making an apology, or meditating on the nature of transgression. In fact the title is a little ambiguous itself: does it refer to a transcendence of the terms of transgression, or a violation of surpassing seriousness? Either way, bracketing this release with two versions of its title track makes her mournful declaration a key aspect of its meaning, and the structural linchpin of its narrative arc.
Dialect – Laygate Hallways: unreleased 2001-2006 (hip-hop)
It seems that Dialect have been around for a good while. Even if you’ve never done anything (or nobody’s noticed you doing anything), just being in existence for long enough to release an album of early rarities is something of an achievement. I should like to point out that I’m in possession of some earlier and rarer Dialect tracks than most of those collected on Laygate Hallways, but Chattabox has made it quite clear he’d prefer those not to see the light of day (although I actually like them a lot).
Grem!i da Muke – Live Sessions (rap)
Most people will remember a cheeky kid at school, one who can’t be reasoned with, but just continually mouths off in the most disgusting fashion, while giggling uncontrollably. Everyone wants to thump him, because he’s so annoying, but no-one ever does, because he’s actually really funny, although most people would never admit to being amused. That’s Grem!i da Muke. He raps, with a sometimes brutally funky flow, and has absolutely no idea of, or interest in, when his lyrics cross the line between dangerously funny and decidedly off colour.
Chattabox & Rick Fury – Masta Blasta (hip-hop)
I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this album. I’m still having a lot of fun, and I expect to be listening to it for a good while yet. There’s little of the overt social commentary found on Dialect releases (or other releases this duo can be heard on), although they can’t help being political, by virtue of their fierce independence and regionalism. There’s not much that’s more subversive than musicians from socially deprived backgrounds swaggering like gunslingers, and firing off bullets they made themselves from the cast-off materials they were left with.
Chattabox And Samuel Otis – Hard Graft (hip-hop)
Thankfully it’s no longer necessary to pretend to be American to be taken seriously as a rapper, Brains McCloud & Silibil notwithstanding. Now you can spit lahk you be comin’ from sahf London unarmeen? Or you can ignore the scene’s prescriptions, and do what comes naturally. A big part of this album’s appeal (and it has a lot of appeal) is that it showcases a variety of voices, the voices of people rhyming like they come from where they come from. ‘Keeping it real’ has long been a touchstone among rappers who don’t, but it’s obvious from listening …