What does it sound like?:
Well, first off, for those of you for whom Lauryn Hill’s totally Afterword-friendly album is a step too far, I would hazard that there’s nothing for you here.
I’m going to start by making a wildly simplistic generalization, which is that contemporary hip hop is pretty much divided between the (mostly samey) unit shifters, a (frequently backward-looking) underground and a menagerie of far out explorers whose work, while frequently admirable, can also be frustratingly hit-and-miss.
What’s more, nearly twenty five years after Chuck declaimed that he “never did represent doing dumb sh*t”, the prevalence of said “dumb sh*t” in this genre has meant that those with something to say who do so directly tend not to feed at the top table.
Jean Grace and Quelle Chris are partners in real life.
In musical terms I would say Jean is sharp and clear old skool-style underground, while Chris can be a bit trippy Hippy dippy and their respective flows mirror this.
So – as much as we all enjoy the idea of working with The Missus – bumping and grinding their quite different styles together might have produced quite the ugly offspring.
Instead, the inevitable sparks have produced fire with flames of new and startling colours.
In less poncey terms, they have produced an album of quality and depth, which is musically adventurous – yes, there are straightforward bangers, but the joy of this record is its musical restlessness and unpredictability (really? the voice is just going to drop out there for an extended instrumental break) – and, at times, rather bonkers, with comedians Hannibal Burgess and Nick Offerman dropping in and nods to Right Said Fred and Big Audio Dynamite.
It may not all come together for you the first time, but it really rewards every relisten.
And it is a proper put-it-on-and-sit-down album. While the “Everything’s Fine” refrain might be milked a little and you may find yourself wondering how many times you will want to hear the piece about the effects of Fear Conditioning on the human limbic system, this is a very satisfying listen-through, culminating in the hammer that knocks the nail in (© Frankie’s rhythm section), the stately “River”, a delightful wash of strings over which Jean drops a devastating opening verse before Chris – in a neat encapsulation of what this record is about – takes us somewhere we couldn’t have imagined, but it turns out we always wanted to go.
What does it all *mean*?
Agh! I never studied for this bit!
Goes well with…
I forgot me calculator!
Might suit people who like…
Bollocks! I’m naked and me pen is tiny and has no ink!
Wait! Oh, thank f*ck! It was all just a dream. There’s no big exam. I’m a grey and wrinkly old man with a shit life waiting to die – EVERYTHING’S FINE!