Have you heard of Animal Farm? And no, I’m not talking about the controversial (one-time banned) George Orwell novel. I’m talking about the Hip Hop group out of Portland, Oregon. If not then fret not. We have got a bit of a treat for you, as the five of them have kindly taken the time to do our little musical interview. But before you get to their choices, listen to their track ‘Test Of Time’ which features Talib Kweli who is easily one of my favourites. This song came to my attention thanks to the daily RCRD LBL mailout some time ago and it’s been getting a steady rotation since. A funky sample and a great lyric/flow adds up to a song that you will listen to plenty! We actually featured it a little while back, but seeing as we’re so generous here’s another listen.
By Josh Bowles
There’s Hip Hop and there’s “Hip Hop”. The East and West coasts of America are undoubtedly the two historical powerhouses and they fall into this second category.
It is well accepted that Hip Hop originated in New York City during the 1970s with lyrical dexterity that differs from all other old school Hip Hop. This original foundation can still be heard through the beats produced by the likes of Jay-Z, which have a tendency to focus on lyrics above all else. Notably, Biggie Smalls would be the perfect example of this with lines flowing like “either you sellin crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot.” Its this dirty side that is inherent in all East coast artists from Nas to the duo that singlehandedly revolutionized the way MCs approach sets with multi-syllabic lyricism, Eric B and Rakim.
Here are two very different songs for you. The first is a pretty recent rap song that got some heavy rotation over the summer. When I read that NaS and Damien Marley had put together an album I was tripping. NaS is one of the best East Coast rappers out there, and the fact that he was married to Kelis for two years (one of my favourite R&B/pop singers) only makes him that much cooler. The fact that the guy who wrote Illmatic and the most talented son of Bob Marley were releasing a record together was (literally) music to my ears. This is the lead single off that album, As We Enter.
And this is the original sample. It’s by a not-very-well known Ethiopian artist called Mulatu Astatke. While he’s been very influential in his native country, cross-over appeal has been late in coming. It was only really after the film Broken Flowers that he became better known. Anyway, this is a great song and a fantastic example of a good ‘world music’ song that’s been able to infiltrate modern pop music.
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