Album: Boom Bap For Neanderthals
Label: Boiling Point
Rating: 5 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
An album mostly full of unknowns, with a few more recognizable names from the hip hop underground? “Boom Bap For Neanderthals”, released by Boiling Point, manages to fulfill the expectations that such a label usually affixes to a compilation. Meaning, it has moments of brilliance and moments of absolute ineptitude.
It seems like compilation albums are popping up at an alarmingly quick pace in the last few years, and with good reason I suppose. With a limited amount of distribution companies willing to back something that won’t get commercial radioplay, the best avenue to get heard in today’s fickle climate is to package yourself with someone else who might bring you some new fans, and vice versa. Where this can backfire, and has backfired many times, is when artists sound exactly like all the other artists on the comp- the bane of the ‘underground’ wrapped up in one neat little package so to speak.
You’ll probably listen to the tracks by the ‘known’ artists first on a compilation such as this (‘known’ being a relative term here). Groups such as Xtracts of Slang, with ‘Steppin In?’ disappoint, with mediocre sleepy beats and likewise uninspired flows (but I gotta give props for the scratched Starang chorus), while Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox phones in a performance over the supremely boring ‘Tippin Dominoes’ which features clichÃ©d drums and keys all over the place. If there was ever a ‘sound dictionary’ and ‘generic underground hip hop’ had an entry, ‘Tippin Dominoes’ could probably serve as a good enough example.
Thankfully the ‘names’ don’t all disappoint – PackFM and Tonedeff kill ‘How U Doin?’, which features a playful horn loop and hard enough drums, matched up perfectly with some skillful wordplay from Pack and Tone. Likewise, Louis Logic and Single Minded Pros bring heat with ‘Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, with heavy bass, an uptempo beat, and some vicious battle rhymes.
The REAL treat from the ‘established’ artists on the comp, is ‘Listen’ by Yaggfu Front and Esau. To say that this track is head and shoulders above EVERYTHING else on the LP would be an understatement. If it was Jay-Z over this beat, you’d have heard it already :seeing as how it’s Yaggfu and Esau over the oriental styled keys, you probably haven’t. Yaggfu kills it, but much like he did on his debut LP from a few years back, it’s Esau that outshines everyone with some impressive vitriol towards the record industry.
Unfortunately, what was written in the second paragraph of the review rings true for most of the rest of the compilation, as many of the ‘unknowns’ prove why they’re unknown – because they have nothing new to offer.
Whether it’s the misplaced beatmaking on Definition’s ‘Definition’, the boring storytelling and battle rhymes of J.A.Q. on ‘The B Boy Song’, or the pseudo-Blackalicious stylings of The Understudies on ‘Get Foolish’, too much of “Boom Bap” sounds too boring, too staid, and too SAME.
Not all of the ‘unknowns’ are horrid though. BUT : it’s the beats. Songs like ‘Hold Up’ by Napsndreds show some skillful punchlines and flow, but have boring beats. The same goes for Supastition and ‘Final Call’ – nice flow, impressive punchlines : and it all falls apart on beats that either don’t thump hard enough, or are one loop over and over and over and over.
In the end, “Boom Bap” is a great example of how far the ‘underground’ has fallen since it’s heyday in the pantheon of hip hop almost a decade ago – too many MC’s that sound the same, and if you happen upon an MC that DOESN’T sound like everyone else, they tend to have weak beats. If the ‘underground’ is the ‘future’, I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to stay awake while listening to hip hop 5 years from now.
With that being said, there ARE a handful of tracks worth a purchase on here, and the Yaggfu/Esau track is honestly good enough to merit a purchase of this album : unless you feel like just buying the real deal and picking up ‘the secret tapes’.