‘Kidnapper Van’

No classic...

Californian trio Foreign Legion’s lyrics are smart-ass enough to make listeners feel clever but simple enough to reassure listeners punch drunk from the onslaught of hypercomplex emcees like Cannibal Ox, Outkast, Sole, Anti-Pop Consortium etc. In an era of gravel-tongued rhyme manglers like DMX and Ja Rule, emcees Prozack and Marc Stretch’s flows aren’t especially distinctive but retain clarity, end rhymes and crucially, memorability.

Phrases flash through your head and strobe vividly. ‘Meanwhile’ opens with Stretch wisecracking: “I think Socrates said it best/’Yo, what the hell did I just drink?’”. ‘Nowhere To Hide’ blows up Fat Boss/Wu-style credulity into a hymn to the all-seeing Illuminati who “killed Princess Di and framed the paparazzi”, while ‘Chain Reaction’ adapts GZA’s ‘Labels’ by stitching emcee names into an impressively sustained end-to-end narrative.

Sonically speaking though, Foreign Legion aren’t all that. Full Time B-Boy’s orchestral swirl keeps your attention but with the exception of the bebop-drumfill roller ‘Chain Reaction’, the tempos don’t stray much beyond 90-110 bpm and the beats hardly switch at all. DJ Design’s got beat-puzzle skills, for sure, on ‘Never Be The Same’ especially, but Foreign Legion badly need some dynamic syncopation. ‘Kidnapper Van’ is competent enough, but it’s no classic.

Kodwo Eshun