Us3 broke into the music scene back in 1997 with their genre-bending smash “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia),” which incorporated hip-hop and jazz in a way that had not been heard in the mainstream. Now, seven years and one import-only album later, Us3 is back with their “groovy groovy jazzy funky” sound that is familiar, redundant and fresh all at the same time … but mostly familiar and redundant. Here’s the breakdown:
Familiar: Their sound hasn’t changed much and their lineup hasn’t changed at all. Mastermind Geoff Wilkinson is still manning the boards, and vocalist Mpho and rapper Reggi Wyns are doing what they can with the beats he supplies.
Redundant: The album starts out with a two minute slow beat that no doubt has Zero 7 calling asking for their intro back. Questions also has two remixes of “Cantaloop,” which is a shameless ploy to get curious listeners to pick up the album just to see if the remixes are as good as the original. I’m going to spoil it for you: They’re not. In fact, Wyns acts as if he’s doing absolutely everything he can to make the song interesting despite the fact that Wilkinson has supplied horrendously generic beats.
Fresh: Wyns is one of the best rappers around. He has a knack for making the best out of a bad situation. He is the one who made “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” a hit, and he is the only reason for listening to this album. Mpho is good and all, but she’s not good enough.
Also, this is the first Us3 album devoid of samples. That being said, the beats are slower than anything that was on Hand on the Torch, which makes this drag on for what seems like hours.
Questions is lyrically full of them. Four song titles pose questions and the lyrics throughout the album ask questions about war and peace (no doubt influenced by Bush’s occupation of Iraq). But nothing is ever answered … except whether or not Us3 ever shake their one-hit-wonder tag? The answer: no.