Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Dead Prez Hip Hop(Epic)
Hip Hop (Epic)
There's not much to it. There's the sound of a radio being tuned, of frequencies
a-changing. Some edgy breaks come in, and a bassline wraps itself round your insides like a guilty conscience. And then two guys, M-1 and Stic-man, originally from Florida, transposed to Brooklyn, start rapping about what's around them. Just like back in the day.
But 'Hip Hop' is a whole lot more. It's a cranked-up critique of contemporary hip-hop that you can punch the air to, a barrage of charged and righteous rhymes about the "smoke and mirrors" of black fame. Located somewhere between Public Enemy and 'What's Going On', it's concerned with how hip-hop - once a music of protest - somehow became all about bitches and money, the vacuous preserve of a few mega-paid playas consuming more conspicuously than Henry VIII. M1 and Stic might have been activists before they were rappers but 'Hip Hop' doesn't feel like a lecture, more like a party with a secret rendezvous for revolutionaries in the basement. Wicked, then, meaning on the side of the angels.
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