DEAD PREZ – “Hip Hop”(CD Single, Loud Records)
Dead Prez think all those ‘fake-ass’ streetrap records “sound the same”. which just shows they’ve not been listening properly. Except they obviously have been listening, since “Hip Hop” rolls in with a magnificent insectoid buzz-bass sound not that far removed from the Beltramish bottom Jay-Z uses on his “Snoopy Track”. What this means is that “Hip Hop” is one of the few ‘undie’ tracks I’ve heard to have sonically got with the program and not sound like it was pining for the days when a man was judged by the obscurity of his funk samples. Better yet, “Hip Hop” achieves a similar lyrical effect, being a cold-shoulder to the ‘mersh rap industry which doesn’t then devolve into boasting about realness* or pointless verbal showing off.** Instead it gets down to economic brass tacks, pointing out that unless you’re ultra-big – and even then – all that’s likely to happen to you as a rapper is getting ripped off. It may not be the most original message, but it’s delivered unhysterically and with style, and that paranoid swarm-bass makes you listen a bit harder, too. “Hip Hop” is contemptuous and straightforward, but it’s exhausted too: “Hip / Hop / Hip / Hop / Hip / Hop / Hip / Hop” goes the chorus, and the ground-out syllables don’t sound like a celebration of a style, they sound like pacekeeping on a forced march. But to where?

* sadly the remix does.
** it’s become a truism to talk about how turntablism is just guitar soloing for the nu age, but nobody levels the same accusations of excess and wankery at those M.C.s who aren’t communicating anything, but are just showing off how fast or fluently they can rap. And you could name a similar charge at rappers who shoehorn in the furthest-out similes and references, too. Though there’s still something uniquely aurally horrible about a Malmsteen or Vai guitar solo, so let’s not go too far here.