Hatchy hips and hops and blows the house down
Publisher: Shock Records
Sat, 24 December 2005
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Hip-hop has always been a bit of a contentious area for me. I liked Public Enemy and Cypress Hill as a kid and recently, really got into Jurassic 5. But for the most part I have avoided the genre because I got tired of the ridiculous grandstanding of most of the artists. Boasting about ghetto life, GAT size, homies and bitches all repeated ad-nauseum on MTV, it just wore me down. And it has caused, to some degree, a generation aware only of one element of the music style despite there being other, better ways to interpret it.
True Live, on this EP, have re-captured all that is good about hip-hop. Using solid classical, jazz and funk rhythms all supported by some stylish beats and percussion it is original and refreshing. Microphone duties are performed by front-man RHyNO and he gives it real punch and style with some funny, witty and insightful rhymes. Does it work? It definitely does, fans obsessed with the bling bling machismo MTV hip-hop image need not apply, lovers of good music set in a modern style probably should lend an ear.
True Live are Melbourne based and the members have been around the scene for a while. Every member has graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts. They can all name-drop some serious experience as well; Roni Size and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra just to name a couple. True Live aren't some garage outfit looking for clever hooks sampled from bad 80's pop songs, nor are they trying to re-create classic hip-hop like The Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash. They're just good at what they do, and they have the years and experience to back it up. There is a real organic feel to the music, and plenty of intent and soul behind the lyrics. Sometimes it's also just nothing more than a bunch of guys having some fun, so you can kick back and really enjoy it.
"Minton's" is really diverse, there are a lot of different musical stylings packed into the songs that make it up. The opening track Question This starts with a brooding, classical intro then immediately cuts into a layered beat accompanied by frequently swirling melodies. The title track Minton's displays prohibition era jazz styled beats and melodies backed up with some funny and clever rhymes (the melodies reminded me a little of my parents old Benny Goodman records!) There is a bit of clapping and back-up singing as well added for good measure. My favourite track, coming in at number three on the EP, is Bounce. It is funky and suave using great beats and string arrangements. The rhyming is good and it flows seamlessly with the music. I really liked the chorus, "if you feel it coming and you don't understand, shut your filthy mouth and throw up your hands" To me, it takes a swipe at all I dislike in commercial hip-hop, so no surprises at all as to why I like it! The last of the original tracks is Evolution, it sports a great piano solo and is a little more laid-back than the other tracks on the EP. The final track, an out-take of the song Minton's, has more of a live spontaneous feel than the original take and the tempo is upped a bit to. If anything, it suggests that True Live wanted to show-off a bit of their improvisation skills by including this one.
|RHyNO- still gets his arse kicked by Spider-man |
True Live have only recently played at Meredith but you can also catch them playing at other music festivals over the summer. Although I have never witnessed a live show of theirs before, recent reports suggest that they are a cracking live band to watch as well. With such obvious talent in their make-up, witnessing an improvisation session on stage would be worth it alone.
True Live have succeeded in crossing musical boundaries seamlessly while still keeping true to the styles and conventions of hip-hop with Minton's EP. It's classy and clever, sometimes serious and sometimes funny, there really is quite a lot of music packed into this modest little EP. If you're a fan of hip-hop, jazz or funk then this is one EP to earmark for a listen next time you go to the record store.
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More articles by Hatchy
For a music genre that has, for a great deal of its history, made money out of sampling other artist's music, it is great to hear a band go to these lengths to produce such a diverse and original release.