Its been about five years since Karls Hinds last solo release, so I was looking forward to what he had in store with “The Need To Be Heard”, his 3rd LP. Once again he brings his unique character to the album, with his distinctive sounding voice spitting a narrative style over synth sound's and programmed beats with less emphasis on sampling. When you hear a Karl Hinds beat, you know its Karl Hinds, and you have to give props to that purely for originality. I find a lot of the sounds he uses take me back to the old “rave” days.
There are some stand out bangers like “How'd Ya Judge It” which gives a true veteran's lesson into the rap game, a conceptually narrative that for me defines what Karl Hinds is all about. This also comes through in “Conspire To Deceive” where again his story telling shines through. “Heard Ta Talkin'” has an interesting beat syncopation with a formulae you could see working on the grime and hip hop dance floor's, not necessarily my cup of tea though.
I love the the piano sample and swing on “What Don't Kill You” and, although the chorus is sung well by featured artist Carmel Cruz, I personally think the vocal melody weakens the track. This goes the same for the track “Waiting For You”. I just don't feel that vocal melody. I know it's tough for UK hip hop to tap into the mainstream, so I can understand trying to cross over into the R&B crowd, but if you are going to do it, its not like this. This now starts to make me wonder where the DJ is on the album, some extra cuts and scratches would have been nice.
The remaining solo track efforts are just okay with tracks like “I Swear Down” (nice “feel it” vocal) and “Sarcasm”. “Live With Regrets” is a little thin. Its the other featured tracks on the album that keeps the vibe alive. “You Ain't That” is okay but Ill Flava's new signing Jeff 3 delivers a confident and authoritative verse. Definitely feeling this guy. “Don't Make Me Do It” again benefits from features by Jeff 3, Iceman & Serocee as does “Up Your Spit Game” a heavy dance floor track with a superb feature from MC Theme.
Perhaps that's it, with so much responsibility laying on his shoulders what with managing a label, writing rhymes and producing, maybe it would have been good to have a few other producers and featured emcees on the album to inject a bit more variety and ease the burden. Still, “I'm In Love”, a track you can't help turning up, says it all, a passion for the music first and foremost, what can I say… big respect to the Hinds!