CD reviews of the week: A different kinda hip-hop


Superhero music

Grand Central

DJ’s and live instrumentalists, like chocolate and peanut butter. When they team up, the results are impressive, and if they’re Fingathing, funny and entertaining to boot. Fingathing obviously does things with their fingas. Manchester’s Peter Parker doesn’t turn into Spidey. He cuts wax, not in a candle factory, but on turntables – a turntabalist as they say. He does things with his fingas that sound cool.

He could also be called “old school” by his mates because he’s been into hip hop since he was a kid and scratched his way to the 1997 DMC championships where Grand Central Records founder Mark Rae discovered him. Parker’s partner, Sneak, is a classically trained double bassist (not two basses, rather one really big one). He’s played strings for over 20 years and studied at two universities. So he does cool things with his fingas too.

The sum of what these fellas do with their fingas on Superhero Music equal a funky break driven album with lots of goofy samples, tight scratching, and amazing bass and cello sounds that can ride the top or anchor the bottom. Beats are straightforward. mid-tempo and funky. They come in and out of interludes consisting of old samples and found sounds. For increased accessibility, there’s also the occasional flute melody or vocal line. The album shines when it’s extra funky, a third of the time, or extra pretty for maybe an eighth of the time. The funny parts, maybe another third, are damn enjoyable as well. The rest of the time it’s just there: 22 tracks composed by two silly talented superheroes doing things with their fingas.

He did that with his mouth?!


The Embodiement of Instrumentation


If you’ve heard or seen the amazing hip-hop group The Roots, your jaw has dropped when Scratch came on stage. The question on everyone’s lips is: Is he doing that with his voice? His art is a commonly ignored aspect of hip-hop: beatboxing. Scratch is top notch. On a booming system, its hard to tell a difference between a record and his voice. I once heard him and another guy flow from beat to beat, dropping samples all the while. I heard a line from the Beastie Boy’s “Paul Revere,” and knew Mike D was gonna come strolling out. Just Scratch.

Listening to his debut full length on a decent home stereo I can hear tiny breathes and other nuances that give the game up. But damn, he’s tight. The album is all human voice: no loops, samples etc. Scratch also lays down each track live, mistakes included. There has to be some double tracked beats or other beatboxers on some cuts, and I still haven’t figured out if the horns are real or voice. Guest MC’s and vocalists include the Roots’ Black Thought, Schoolz of Thought, Malik B, Floetry, Bilal and others. Listening to that slightly different sound that this art brings can get a little old, but on the whole, this LP is damn solid and entertaining. The beats are tight, the guests are solid and damn, how the hell does he do that!