Music Reviews

Awol One and Daddy Kev



During one of my more pretentious moments (and they are many), I once compared the current state of hip-hop with post-WWII jazz: when the big band furor was way too popular and formulaic for many of jazz’s more talented musicians and they’d reacted with the more challenging be-bop. Today, with hip-pop being depressingly predictable, there are many underground/neo-soul hip-hoppers who are trying to reinvigorate the form: today’s equivalent to the be-boppers. But, for the folks at Mush, it seems that they have cheated and have skipped bop and hard bop and have gone straight to free jazz. From Count Basie to Ornette Coleman. With artists like Bus Driver and Radio Inactive, Reaching for Quiet and now Awol One and Daddy Kev, this Dirty Loop subsidiary is really putting in serious effort to expand the boundaries of hip-hop (which now I see they’re calling their music “American Made Free Jazz-Hop,” now it all makes sense).

And, just like their free-jazz progenitors, you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind for Slanguage and a lot of other Mush releases. Awol and Daddy Kev refuse to let you sit back and head nod, and you definitely can’t cruise down the street and let the Bose vibrate. This is intellectuals’ hip-hop with a sly sense of humor (so much so, it’s sometimes hard to figure out if these fellas take themselves seriously). Yes, you have elements of boomin’ bass throughout, but you’ll struggle your way through a lot of other stuff to get to it.

For those resistant to change or fans of bubble-gum gangsta (c)rap and pseudo-Southern bounce, Slanguage is definitely not for you, and I highly discourage you from throwing this on at a party; unless it’s time for folks to go. However, those who enjoy adventure, who love having their horizons expanded (without the ear-splitting screeches of Albert Ayler), I highly recommend these two. It’s not quite Derrida, but it is incredibly challenging stuff that is definitely worth the endeavor.

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