Album: Biro Funk
Label: Low Life Records
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
The Braintax history dates back to the original formation of Lowlife Records in 1992. With Riddim Killa Rodney P, and the up and coming Task Force also signed, Lowlife looks like being home to some of the dopest releases in the near future – definitely a label to look out for.
But who or what is Braintax? Well, Braintax has been one of the most slept on acts in UK Hiphop. Originally a duo, and now a one-man-team, Braintax has worked alongside such lumianaries as BDP, Redman, Das EFX, The Pharcyde, and Ice T. The Braintax catalalogue of releases , including the “Fat Head”, “Future Years”, and “Travel Show” EPs have been generally well received by the UK Hiphop public over the years, and so, the time has come for the first Braintax full-length outing…
The noticable thing about this album on first listen is the quality and variety of the beats – from the near perfect simplicity of the opening cut ‘Don’t Drag Me In’, to the chugging reggae influences of ‘Godnose’, to the bouncy Slum Village-esque title cut, its still a pleasant surprise to be feeling the beats on UK releases. Despite what a lot of people say – some UK acts DO still suffer from wack beats.
What of the lyrics? Well for the most part, they are pretty damn good. Take the previously mentioned ‘Don’t Drag Me In’ which features Mystro on the help outs. On here, both emcees flip the script on the current bragging-about-the-streets culture of Hiphop, explaining how they tried to avoid the crime, and the drinking culture of their youth to concentrate on maintaining the small amounts of cash they had. And even when they did get caught up in the crime scene, they were smarter than the others…
“Seen the helicopter buzzing overhead its,
Time for me to be out, time to get selfish,
I can’t be getting nicked for what someone else did,
Blended with the bushes until the shadows melted,
And when the sun came up it was less hot,
Stepped off down the cobblestones at a trot.”
Since September 11th, much has been made of Dilated People’s new album “Expansion Team” and all the references to the ongoing war in Afghanistan that people have “found” in it, despite it being written during the summer. Braintax can top that – the eerie lyrics of ‘The Grip’ have to be heard to be believed. This looks like it was written as a rallying cry to people everywhere, to open their eyes to corruption in world governments in the name of capitalism – name checking “soldiers freakin’ out in foreign lands killing citizens”, Margaret Thatcher, Chile and Malaysia among the guilty parties as it goes along. Its when the second verse starts though, that the hairs stand up…
“I wish I had the will to fight back,
Be at the World Trade Centre all dressed in black,
Me and an angry pack,
Instead I just rap and give back
And see a rich life and think I still want to live that…
… And thats deep, but not as deep as losing a child,
Seeing his face crushed by the rifle butt by your village hut,
Pure grief thanks to far away beef
Fried in messed up religion, mixed up in belief.”
Dope, thought provoking lyrics, coupled with the irony that the beat features a loop of some sampled Indian / Arabic music, make this one of the most eerily topical tracks I’ve ever heard.
Lets put this simply – you gotta pick this up. Its dope. From the Skinnyman and Task Force guest appearances, to the sounds-like-Pete-Rock production on ‘Riviera Hustle’ where The Beano gets namechecked, to the tracks already described – all bases are covered. Beats are strong and varied. Lyrics go from the deep shit mentioned above, to story telling, to braggadocio battle rhymes. A very very strong release, which bodes well for Braintax and the whole Lowlife label.