Spooks : SIOSOS Volume One

Faced with high standards to emulate, positive thinking might just be the key.

Spooks : SIOSOS Volume One

6 / 10 Faced with high standards to emulate, positive thinking might just be the key. Because, if last year was a great one for hip-hop - with Eminem, OutKast and the Wu in imperious form - bettering it is going to prove mighty difficult.

Judging by an acronym album title standing for 'Spooks Is

On Some Other Script' and constant rapping about their originality, Spooks - a secretive bunch of four rappers and one singer from various undisclosed East Coast locales - are

obviously sure they're up to

the task. And, while in hip-hop raging self-assurance is more

a way of life than a criminal offence, convincing others might

be harder.

Especially as their debut is a

mix of Fugees soul, RZA menace and a towering paranoia about the music industry that would make Marshall Mathers proud. None

of which, obviously, is remotely ground-breaking, but that hardly matters when they've also got enough flashes of inspiration to indulge in jittery future funk on

'I Got U', the industrial clatter

of 'Deep Cutz' and, with hit single 'Things I've Seen', infectious string-looped pop.

What really lifts them above

the chasing pack, however, is

singer Ming Xia adding a touch

of steely R&B modernism, a welcome female counterpoint,

and enough hook-laden soul to catapult them into the big time.

It won't help them escape the shadow of last year but, as opening salvos go, Spooks have done enough.

Jim Alexander

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