label: awakenings
includes: nick sweepah, osinaka, excel, muphin, auxone, others.
year of release: 2003
1. Leagues Intro
2. Oishi Stylus : Chain Of Being
3. Hykoo : Afterglow
4. Nick Sweepah : Waking Life
5. Ivens : Stand My Ground
6. Aeteacix : Trampled
7. Ardent One : Interlude
8. Presto : Nitty Gritty
9. Equills : Forward
10. Isaac : Making Things
11. Excel : Moodswings
12. Kolony feat. Muphin : Heart Rate
13. Crixus : Rush
14. Osinaka : Guidance
15. Leagues Insomnia
The Australian rap scene is hot, like a stranded Iguana on a exposed piece of rock in the Outback. There's new artists coming out of the woodwork constantly, and quite often, the music is worth the listen. Plus, kinda like with the wildlife of Australia, some old forms were preserved on that continent. So many of the old hip hop values seem to be prominent there, and the artist put this in a new interpretation of the glorious boom and bap. With that however, comes the problem that many describe as 'under-production', something these kinds of artists are prone to fall prey to. And so it's no surprise that the Aeteacix beat on "Trampled" is giving exactly that air. Once the percussion and that other sound that comes with it, cover the ground, the track gets more depth though. It's however not the beat why this track is mentioned first, but it's a quote that sums the theme of this compilation up: "Life isn't easy, but it's preferable to death".
As the songs do speak about the black and white of life, offering many grays in between though too. However in all it's melancholy, and ruggedness, there's always a grain of hope. Blatantly on the surprisingly happy and upbeat intermission "Interlude" by Ardent One, as well as the gloaming Leagues offering "Heart Rate", where Kolony and Muphin rhyme to. The question is raised if 'this world is really ending, or just bending backwards', what in itself is an optimistic outlook. And if anything, that is what's excellent about this record: how amongst all the pessimism, and the supposed coolness that comes with it, these artist didn't forget to set the alarm clock. They want their awakening.
Excel's "Moodswing" might be the most obvious way how the concept was put to music. But just how he has his universe stop for a moment to then realize that not all is bad, but plenty is quite and very good, is a smack with a cold wet washing cloth, that many of us in a slumber could need from time to time. Similarly upfront is Equills "Forward", with the strong emphasis on his personal awakening and coming about. Which is one step further in the process than Osinaka got, as he's still screaming for "Guidance". You can argue, also when listening to what's his despair, that he needs to break that shell himself. His words are rhymed over another one of those excellent Osinaka beats, with this one in particularly jetting it to the top of all the offerings on this compilation.
The desperation of this song is again balanced by the pure relaxation of Kugar's beat on "Chain Of Being" by Oishi Stylus. Conceptually this song stands outside of the framework for much of it's size, what can't be said about Nick Sweepah who happens to do "Waking Life". With him being one of the people behind the compilation, there's a certain upholding the banner responsibility that comes with his song. Which is treated to a very good Aux One beat (who appears to be another of those good Australian producers to look out for), while Nick dwindles in the uncertainties of life. His focus is the black of the spectrum, with very visual rhymes speaking about Japanimation type scenarios. But the fact that he's watching this, and struggling to prevent this, shows that he's very aware of the white, that's opposing the black.
The traditions mentioned at the beginning can be found in the piano of "Nitty Gritty" by Presto and produced by Relik. On the lyrical tip, Jetson stays off beat, while the whole way his voice sounds screams for a enhancing mastering. What's only part of what's not completely working on this record. Like while the drum drops of "Making Things" are excellent. The cello or whatever it is, can get annoying. Later this sound is switched with similar piano sounds, which are less dominant, and thus much nicer.
Nevertheless, another sign of a healthy scene is that there's always artists coming up that we've never heard of before. And this compilation is full of 'em. Along with very good writing and a thick concept, this compilation works very well as one piece, just as do some of the parts by themselves.
review: tadah
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