Album: Aberfoyle Springs
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
HipHopHotSpot.com has been making noise on the internet and “real world” scene for some time, with its policy of promoting and exposing fresh underground talent, In a market, where many rappers remain ignorant of “Industry Rule Number 4080”, HHHS has provided an avenue for groups to promote their skills, push their names, and sell their albums, without being tied into shady deals and bullshit contracts.
So now we come to the “Aberfoyle Springs” compilation. Basically this is a compilation joint featuring some of the artists who have benefitted from the help and guidance of the guys at HHHS, with the object again to showcase the skills of the contributors, AND show some love for the site and its goals. Yes, the music is underground, so it goes without saying that there are bound to be cats on here who you’ll be hearing for the first time. However there are some familiar names featured here who are known for carrying the flag for the underground camp – Apathy and Celph Titled, Tack-Fu, Classified, and Mars Ill all contribute cuts.
The album kicks off with a cut from Rok 1 called ‘Clear The Building’ – a bouncy little number by a skilled rhymer from DJ Swindle’s camp, featuring horn-dripping production from Swindle himself. Rok comes off nice overall, but the track is a little short. A nice opener though. Swindle’s camp is also represented later on by Logic and his ‘Confrontation’cut, which DJ MF raved over in his review of Logic’s solo effort, “Slam Factor”.
The neck snapping beat on ‘Ridiculous Junk’ ushers in the entrance of Red Cloud, Braille, Mr Tru, Man Of War, and Gibraan for a frenzied posse cut. This is straight up illness – each emcee blazes the mic, and the beat is just bananas. Special props to Gibraan who comes through with an early contender for verse of the year.
‘Urban Camper’ by Vandal caught my attention due to the “Rakim-ness” of the emcee. The beat is a simple but effective composition that serves only to highlight the skills of Vandal on the mic, and I was definitely feeling the cuts on the chorus. Elsewhere, Coleon’s ‘Squanderin’ with its cinematic feel, and the lively closing instrumental cut ‘Relaxed’ by DJ Earl-E and Tack-Fu also had me reaching for the back button to check ’em out again.
And what of the well-knowns? Because despite how good or bad I tell you the other cats are, its probably gonna be them you check for first… Well, Apathy And Celph Titled drop a ‘Breeze Block Freestyle’ over the Beatnuts ‘No Escapin’ This’, in a session taken from Radio 1 over here in the UK. Its easy to see why these guys get their respect, as they display some of the best punchlines and wordplay on the whole LP. Celph Titled also shows his production skills on DutchMassive’s ‘Fallout’, a slow tempo Pete Rock-influenced jazzy number which also features Walkman and Celph Titled on mic duty. As for the other “big names”, Mars Ill’s ‘Rap Fans’ remix improves on the original with an ominous guitar bassline dominating proceedings, while Classified’s ‘Past Out’ is a drug anthem with a beat that conjures up images of Slim Shady for some reason.
Standout cut on the whole compilation? That award goes to Storm The Unpredictable’s ‘Darker The Berry’ – an emotive cut that deals with bullying and school troubles, and one that is backed up by the most suitable piano loop. I don’t even need to say any more, the words speak for themselves…
“Some say the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice,
I say the darker the berry, the harsher the abuse,
Man it was terrible, the names they called me were unbearable,
Kunta Kinte, Shaka, they’d laugh hysterical,
They couldn’t understand the pain they put me through,
Some say words will never hurt me – I say they surely do,
I thought my skin was dirty… had to make it cleaner,
At night, I would awake just so I’d apply Noxzema
To my face, hoping to make my whole complexion lighter,
But Melanin in my system was just too much of a fighter.”
Its not all plain sailing however. Toolshed’s ‘Out Of Rope’, Braille’s ‘Matter Of Time’, and Red Cloud’s ‘Last Of The Mex-hee-cans’ were just a little too experimental for my tastes. Toolshed’s joint features some promising horns and jazz beats at the outset, but I wasn’t impressed by the flow of the emcees, who seemed to be trying TOO hard to be “cool”. Braille meanwhile came off on his one as a poor man’s Beastie Boy, complete with mic feedback. A little too indie-rock flavoured for me thanks. Finally, that ‘Mex-hee-cans’ track didn’t really move me at all – although it features some incredibly layered production, I just couldn’t get with the flow on this at all.
These are minor points overall though. For your cash you’re getting 22 joints, the majority of which are very strong advertisements for the underground scene, and a great way for HipHopSpot.com artists to draw attention to themselves and to the hard work that the guys at the site are doing. Go and pick this up.