Album: Electric Love Volume 1
Label: Serenitia Entertainment
Rating: 6 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Keith Murray. Remember that cat? Good to see him making a comeback too. But seriously… remember when he first came out how it felt a little strange for him just to use his plain ole government name to emcee? No MC Bizzy K, or Special M for Mr Murray. I always felt that it took a certain amount of ego (and skills) to be able to carry that off.
Now we come to the first signing on Serenitia Entertainment – Cecil, and he’s even dropped the surname! OK, so there’s not many other Cecils in the Hiphop world that could get confused with this one, but let’s see if he’s gonna be able to build a rep to allow him to gain some recognition.
Let’s make one thing clear from the off – this is not a straight up Hiphop album. You’re gonna get elements of Hiphop, elements of R’n’B, elements of Reggae and Jazz, all wrapped up in a “spoken-word” type of package. Issuing those dreaded words may turn a lot of people off, but let’s give this time and see what develops…
Things kick off with ‘A Dream’. Its a strange way to open an album, and to be honest, one I couldn’t get into at all. Musically there’s little more than a simple acoustic guitar pattern, a smattering of strings and pianos, and an awkward chorus. I sincerely don’t mean this to be condescending, but it seems to be a “praise God” type joint, with Cecil examining his current and past situations and explaining (in somewhat complicated fashion) how things have improved since he started “trying to build God one step at a time.” Its all a little bit “rambling”, and to be honest sounds like the type of Christian-cum-folksy type thing that a lot of young church leaders seem to favour today over traditional hymns.
Things don’t really improve with ‘Actions Speak’. Musically its a little more lively, with a definite reggae flavour coming through in the heavy bassline. Unfortunately the beat doesn’t really change at all throughout – a few echoing synths drop in and out of the mix, and little else. Cecil doesn’t really sound interested either as he moans and groans his way through the two and a half minutes.
At last things pick up, with ‘Told You So’ and ‘Soon’. Why? Well finally we get a couple of tracks with a little Hiphop flavour, and all of a sudden, Cecil seems INTERESTED… which in turn makes ME interested. The former track is built around an acoustic replay of the sample used in Black Sheep’s ‘Similak Child’ (think this is Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘You Know You Know’), an energetic big beat-ish type break, and a generous borrowing of MC Lyte’s lines. ‘Soon’ meanwhile jacks A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Push It Along’ drums (Junior Mance) and drops a nice strings section over the top, while the chorus, for just a second, sounds a little like Beck’s ‘Loser’. The whole thing just sounds so ENERGETIC though, and blows away the cobwebs of the first couple of cuts.
The title track, an ode to breaking up, is equally impressive, mainly because it stays within the boundaries of Hiphop, managing to sound progressive, without becoming TOO experimental. Again, the production is kept quite simple – a basic ascending / descending piano scale, a nice little kick to the drums and Cecil laying it down over the top.
‘Open Mic’ leaves every other influence in the locker and comes with a straight up Hiphop vibe. From the sample of Lyte’s ‘Paperthin’, to Cecil absolutely blazing the mic, to Cecil’s cousin Rob Scott taking over and dismantling it himself, everything about this cut just brings it back to the essence. Seriously… this is one of the best cuts on the album, but apparently was only tossed on as an afterthought. Luckily, someone did the right type of thinking – I likes.
Unfortunately against the last sequence of strong cuts, the last few tracks on the album can’t really stand up. ‘Teddy Bear’ mellows the mood again, though retains a little bit of boom in the drums, before ‘For Play?’ just kills any momentum that the album had. Its another spoken word joint, describing in fairly explicit detail, exactly how Cecil likes to get freaky before he gets down to “bizness”. All this takes place over a backdrop of cheesy rock guitar riffs, and a plodding beat. It just ain’t arousing ME at all. Finishing things off is ‘These 3 Words’ which over the recognisable riff from the Ohio Players’ ‘Pride And Vanity’, and some live violin strings has Cecil trying to answer the whole “what is love?” question.
At only nine tracks long, many will wonder whether this is worth their interest or not. Well… yes and no. If its straight up Hiphop you’re looking for, then the tracks sandwiching the four Hiphop-themed cuts in the middle, will be a BIG turn off. If however, you’re interested in examining the spoken word genre a little more, or just need something a little mellow to kick back to, then this is as good a place as any to start. An interesting debut, with definite signs of promise.