Don't come to me with that experimental bullshit! Save that for the suckas who don't know. Hell's Kitchen couldn't have come out at a better time than now. With all the buzz concerning how to label non-traditional sounds and vibes of music but a horrid memory, Ming + FS punch you right in the face with a full dose of New York flavor.
The introductory speech alone informs you that you are in for a treat unlike any other you've had in ya ears before. But still giving you what you need. Hell's Kitchen's spacey raggamuffin' sound is a for sure thick and lively head bobber. They even provided some great turntable treats without using any worn out sound bites. Back and forth, forth and back, from deep melodic sounds to in ya face booty shakin' fun.
Being from NYC, they of course give you some extraordinary lyrical presentations. These gifts came in the form of BlesteNATION, Mack & Youngblood, M'stro Manny, and Hip Hop legend (in any frame of mind) TC Izlam. Are these your typical club chant offerings? Hell no. Do the lyrical styles fit with the unique sounds of Ming & FS? Does a dog fuck doggy-style? They have given the featured lyricist a musical alternative for rhyme accompaniment. No bland Casio programmed beats, no overused samples, and no tired loops.
With "Hijack the Disco" they give many different offerings to the gods. From the soft Tantric vibes, to the deep organ sound, the nimble fingers on the electric piano, or the soothing voice of the chic in the background, the "melody" being checked in and out of this sequence is beautiful. By the time this track was over I wanted to know exactly where it was they had taken me.
What I most enjoyed from this project would have to be the balance so perfectly applied. Balanced in that the order of the songs go from lyrical to instrumental, dark to danceable, programmed to live take (Once again we are blessed with an incredible offering of Beatboxing!). The balance of styles involved with "Hell's Kitchen" can have you clubbin' or chillin'. If your car sounds can handle the pressure, crank this up a bit.
"JunkyardDevotion" and "Hijack the Disco" would have to be the signature tracks for the sound that they are pioneering. Turntablism at its finest to say the least. But again, not with your ordinary sound bites applied. "Oohhh vinyl… vinyl is extinct now… no one really plays it…." After this joke is delivered, they shed some light on the subject with a few zigga-ziggas. A technique repeated throughout this entire lp. They'll give you more than enough sampled rope where you want to take them for granted and then…. YANK! You get strung up like Kenny on a tetherball pole.
They are constantly giving homage with the sounds they provide for your journey into "Hell's Kitchen" on this album. But, you can really capture their voice in "Kings County." Brooklyn B-Boy M'stro Manny provides a more than realistic picture for you to envision. "I'll cut a vein and bleed verbs to be heard, no need for reverb. I'm from the heart of the beast. The furthest point east. In peace I speak to reach peoples in the streets are related." Tell me this cat doesn't love his city!
The high points of this album come from hearing each track in their entirety, not masked from blends. The low point comes after the sixty-fifth minute and the forty-seventh second.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: October 21, 1999