Lyricist Lounge Volume 2

Hip-hop is power music and this is its electric revival...

Every hip-hop fanatic’s sensitive to the mutual indifference and antagonism of street and avant-rap these days, but a close listen reveals that both tendencies are linked by a love of electronics. Lyricist Lounge fans usually fixate on its virtuoso emcees but LL Volume 2’s strength lies in showing just how lyrically polarised yet sonically unified hip-hop is right now.

Staccato analogue minimalism reigns throughout: check Royce Da 5’9″s ‘Let’s Grow’, a lascivious paean to getting “some plaque on my dick” that doubles as a one finger synth version of Bach’s ‘Toccata In D Fugue Minor’, a lite classical fave familiar from mobile ring tones. Or the ersatz trumpet fanfares of Big Noyd & Prodigy’s basic and raw-sounding ‘The Grimy Way’. Or the taut two-bar loops of Cocoa Brovaz’ ‘Get Up’ and Q Tip & Wordsworth’s ‘Makin’ it Blend’. Or the compelling rhythm guitar of Beanie Siegel’s ‘Get That Doe’. Or Dilated Peoples’ ‘Right And Exact’, where synths fall through Iriscience’s cruel cadence like fairy dust, lighting up a microcosmic mindscape where “particle pieces present broken glass tactics”.

Only Talib Kweli and Dead Prez escape from electronica on their enthralling pro-gun track ‘Sharp Shooters’. Cocked pistol samples shred plucked blues guitar ambience as each emcee declares “I’m one with my gun/I love it like my first son”. Like Outkast said, hip-hop is power music and this is its electric revival.

Kodwo Eshun