Variable Unit

Variable Unit

Handbook For The Apocalypse

Wide Hive

Trying to rip Velvet Underground’s nickname this early on seems a bit over-ambitious, so I’ll settle with calling them Variable Unit for now, rather than their preferred VU; at least until they come up with something a bit more intriguing than barely above average G-funk and jazzy coffeehouse hip-hop. Not to say that this is droll stuff, but Variable Unit don’t really add anything new to this line of music. Azeem’s energetic and fluid rap on the title track engages the most, and the band sounds tighter here than elsewhere on the EP: there’s a sharp focus and less of the vague jamming that somewhat suppresses the power and urgency of much of the other material.

Variable Unit is ardently anti-war, which is a good thing. Musicians all too readily cover their political sentiments in vague terms and general, ineffective statements, and Variable Unit deserve kudos for sticking their necks out and standing up for their cause. It infests their music in several good ways, most notably on “I Am On A Journey To My Soul, But The Police Just Pulled Me Over,” on which writer Paul J. Flores reads (more so than raps) over another one of Variable Unit’s many jazz jams. “Spreading America all over the world, until there is no foreigners left, except maybe • you.” Man, you don’t get a lot of that in hip-hop these days.

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