Fresh Espresso Goes Down Smooth

August 6th, 2009

dj100proof touched on this about a month ago, but the sentiment bears repeating: Fresh Espresso‘s Glamour is really fucking good. I’m not exactly breaking any news here, so chances are you fly honeys have heard and read all about this record on those other, more popular blogs. In any event, I’ll take the afforded opportunity to add my two cents. The first proper collaboration between MC Rik Rude and producer/MC P Smoov— “debut” just doesn’t seem fitting—the 14-track multifarious record signals a new shift in local hip-hop. Gallant urban consciousness has been usurped by slick-smooth party rap. Ok, so maybe Glamour didn’t “signal” the redirection (see: the Saturday Knights’ Mingle, Mad Rad’s White Gold, the burgeoning They Live!, Champagne Champagne’s self-titled release, etc.), but it certainly has brought the movement—pun intended—to its ass-shaking apex.

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Those familiar with Mad Rad will find some similarities with that ghetto-tech spaz clan’s debut (P Smoov is the primary beatmaker behind both works), but Rik Rude’s Bay Area-via-Michigan voice adds a welcome temperance and savvy to the album’s vibe. When Rik’s feeling hot, Smoov cranks it up; when Rik’s feeling pensive, Smoov slows it down. As such, the producer’s influences are diverse and proudly on display: techno, disco, funk, soul, neo-jazz, hip hop from all three decades. The songs, melded shrewdly together, fly by without being hyperactive. They get one hand waving in the air while the other simultaneously strokes the nodding chin. There are dance jams (“Diamond Pistols”, “Vader Rap”), a disco-funk odyssey ( “Big or Small”), west coast introspections ( “Something New”, “Elegant”, “Show Me How You Do”), spooky Madlib-esque sermons ( “Right Here”, “We Desire What’s Real”), futuristic intelligence ( “The Lazer Beams”) and big-time rap strokes ( “Girls and Fast Cars”, “Gigantic”).

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“Diamond Pistols” is the obvious mover and shaker in this collection. A cavalcade of organs and horns launch the “kick-drum anthem”, while Rude refers to himself as the “Spielberg with the word”. Smoov slides in after some crazy high-pitch synths, and exhibits a fancy food fetish. Moving on, I rejoice: somebody finally sampled the Bee Gees again! I’m serious, I ain’t got no qualms with the hairtastic, white-suited Gibb Brothers and “Big or Small” is stunning simply because of its ha-ha-ha-HA chorus. Another brilliant sample (Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”) propels “Vader of the Rap Game”, a robotic—what else?—foray into dancetronica that Justin Timberlake surely wishes he thought of first. Smoov’s hook kills me every time: “I can speak in bi-nary / I want her / she wants me”.

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Another hook in an album full of them, “Back up / because the lazer beams get so hot”, has been endlessly rolling around in my head. Deliberate drum beats emulate Rude’s calculated cadence while a blistering synth bursts from the background. And in perhaps my favorite cut, “We Desire What’s Real” evokes smoke-stained memories of the Madlib/MF Doom collaboration Madvilliany. Rude’s lyrical prowess doesn’t get any better: “smoke green til my eyes turn crimson” and “I don’t rap no more, I just breathe a verse”. The song’s somber tone stands above the rest.

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Diamond Pistols

Big or Small
Vader of the Rap Game

The Lazer Beams

We Desire What’s Real

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Be warned: there are numerous references to coffee and espresso on this record. In fact, as one friend pointed out, the first and last tracks, when looped on your stereo, can create two sequential songs entirely about coffee. I dunno, it’s a bit much. That won’t likely be an issue when seeing the duo live, of which there are ample upcoming opportunities. I don’t think I can miss the Beard Off.

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Aug 7 at the Mural Amphitheatre with Dyme Def (KEXP Summer Series)

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Aug 13 at the Funhouse: BEARD OFF! with They Live! and Lamborghiniz

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Aug 20 at Chop Suey with the Physics

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Posted by LB | Filed in Album Reviews, MP3s


6 Responses to “Fresh Espresso Goes Down Smooth”

  1. August 6th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    rex said:

    ahh sick stuff. thanks for the writeup

  2. August 6th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    206-UP! said:

    Some good thoughts on FE. Thanks!

    I really, really wanted to dislike these guys (my hip-hop sensibilities trend more toward Blue Scholars than Mad Rad), but their party-rocking vibe is undeniably addictive. P-Smoov is a talent. Rik lends legitimacy. I can’t hate anymore!

  3. August 6th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    LB said:

    “I can’t hate anymore!”

    That’s hilarious. Word up.

  4. August 6th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    kd said:

    oh so good…especially We Desire What’s Real!

  5. August 24th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Ash said:

    Yeah – this is great. Thank you.

  6. April 28th, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Sir Jam said:

    diamond pistols sample is birdland by weather report, great song



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