Australian hip-hop is fascinating. While not every album is a home run, a consistently high percentage of Australian rap albums I have come across have been dope. The minute I feel I have a good gauge of the talent coming from Australia, I become exposed to a new emcee with dope music to offer. The latest Australian emcee to hit my speakers is Urthboy, a veteran hailing from New South Wales, Australia. A member of The Herd, a group who has gotten positive reviews from us before, Urthboy hits us with his third solo album entitled "Spitshine." Packed into the album's 13 tracks are plenty of dope beats and a refreshing classic hip-hop vibe.
If there is one thing that is consistent in Australian hip-hop, it is the general dedication to the culture. While in the states things have drifted away from the original essence of the music, Australian emcees seem to stick closer to the roots of the culture. While there is plenty of personal experience packed into Urthboy's album, there is also plenty of concern over the culture, more than you will find on your average American rap album. Urthboy kicks off the album with "Til They Snatch This Last Page" where he shouts out hip-hop's origins:
"Spirit of The Signal something bout it
Love it when you mouth the lyrics as much as shout it
That's clout brother, none of it scouted
Following on from what Kool Herc sprouted
You're with us or your judgment's clouded
Tell me you don't hate us for the skills we flouted?
Chose me a flow, not a nose to powder
Time keeps ticking week, month, year, louder"
Urthboy follows this up with "Spitshine" where he reflects on the current state of hip-hop:
"You could be the boss, bad man in charge
Big banner, live large, 12 car garage
Iron fist strong arm, heavy handed raj
But it's all a mirage and it ain't what it oughta be
How could it deteriorate to this state?
Yep, you were the heir ready to sit in the chair's place
All factors, and all signs should have aligned
In time, but it's not what it oughta be
Gotta give em something to get at, go get up
Get on, set out and setup, something to set on
If they can't be something you can bet on
For one thing or other then it ain't what it oughta be
Another piece of the puzzle that don't fit in
No matter how you force the position it won't sit in
Got it in control? Ha, are you kidding?
The bird has escaped to where it really oughta be"
Hip-hop is an underlying theme on "Spitshine," but Urthboy touches upon a variety of subjects through out. He touches upon politics and social change on "Shruggin," religion is addressed on "Hellsong," and his resilient spirit is celebrated on both "Ready To Go" and "Don't Sideline Me." The production remains dope throughout, provided by Count Bounce, Hermitude, and Elgusto. At its core, the production stays true to golden era hip-hop. You have boom-bap drum loops dominating the background and dope samples layered over them. The difference comes in the nature of the samples and the synthesizers and live instruments used. "Usher In The Cool" features distorted electronic synths that give the beat a dark and frantic feel. "2000 and Whatever" is a completely fresh production experiment as it is a live jam featuring Elgusto on the MPC and Count Bounce on the keys.
"Spitshine" is a dope hip-hop album. Urthboy is a captivating emcee with a dope flow and balanced approach to the rap game. He hits upon several different topics on this album and makes a varied, but consistently on point, album. The production is solid and fresh, giving listeners that classic hip-hop vibe but with some creative elements not found on your average album. Overall, this is a definite recommendation for those looking for some fresh, but not out there, hip-hop. As with most Australian acts, there will be an accent to overcome, but if they consistently deal with American accents it's only fair we do the same.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: September 29, 2009