This one comes straight out of my regular bag of stuff sent to me by Tricksta’s Park Street PR. The quality of those releases generally varies a bit – I’m not totally won over by the Wolftown sound, although I do have the utmost respect for their hustle, passion and dedication. However, each package with a Wolverhampton postcode always contains at least one absolute gem.
The last couple of outstanding releases were the HHB Radio Mix CD (I liked it so much I’m now doing a show for ’em!) and the Urban Shop/ UK Runnings compilation, which had a huge number of top-notch Hip-Hop tunes plus a sick little roots reggae set at the end of the album.
Geebag‘s album is unquestionably the real-deal banger this time and I can for once concur wholeheartedly with the PR claim that Gee is “destined for big things…” This album is real, soulful Hip-Hop through and through. The lyrics are both intelligent and accesible, the flow is pure finesse and the production is crisp and professional in a way that too many “lo-fi” UK artists can’t or won’t match.
One real strength is the fact that all but two of the album’s backing tracks are the product of one guy by the name of Mr Jaes. I’ve not heard of him before but he’s definitely got the goods and it’s both welcome and comparatively rare to find a producer nowadays with the ability, commitment and consistency to put together enough tracks with one artist to make an LP. It’s far more normal for MCs to pick and choose beats from here and there, leaving an album that lacks an overall sense of purpose.
Alternatively, one can go with one beatsmith and risk either patchy quality and / or a limited range of styles. On the UK side of things (ignoring for a second US legends like Premier and Pete Rock), the first example that springs to mind as having succesfully navigated the minefield is Joe Buhdah (on Klashnekoff’s “Lionheart Tussle With The Beast” and, earlier, New York MC El-Fudge’s 2001 “Chronic Irresponsibility”). Mr Jaes isn’t too far off as chief collaborator on “No Worries“.
Of the two guest spots on the boards, by far the best is the beat to “Raindrops” by Jimmy Plates, who pitches up a soul sample perfectly to out-Kanye Mr West. Falling rain envokes so much emotion, especially coming from the British Isles and for me Geebag really hits a creative peak on this track:
“Caught up in the rain you know you’re gonna get drenched
That’s what happens when you go against my weakness and strength”
That’s a line so simple and strong that I think Geebag may have more in him for a truly great second album when he’s taken this one as far as it can go.
As to the product here in front of us, it’s actually quite hard to pick out highlights. There are no poor tracks and while I personally felt like skipping on a couple of times this was mostly because I knew or strongly suspected that the next song was not just decent but actually hot as hell. Buy a copy and then play it to all your mates… there’s every chance that they’ll be singing along to the hooks on tracks such as “Beautiful” even if they’re not generally into Hip-Hop. That’s without losing the skills and solidity of a truly dope rap album…