Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reviews:: Moka Only - Claptrap

Trying to review a Moka Only album is like trying to review fall: You know it's coming every year, but you aren't exactly sure when, you don't remember much detail from last time, but you know you enjoyed it, and based on the rich memories you have from last time, you're pretty certain you're going to like it this time around. Or something. There's a metaphor-laced intro that even the Ack could get behind. Anyway, Moka's latest release Claptrap came out about a month ago on Urbnet, and as you might expect, it's an enjoyable ride.

As played out as it is, I think I need to add the "enjoyable if you like what Moka does" qualifier to that last statement, as I imagine Moka's prolific and dusty, true-school steez may not be for everyone. But I will then qualify that statement by saying that if you don't like Moka, you're likely a picky so-and-so. I mean, putting it simply, listening to a Moka Only album means getting an enjoyable experience for very little investment. The songs on Claptrap are rarely longer than two minutes and change, and while Moka's lyrics are actually pretty engaging if you take them in, he does make it pretty easy to zone out. I don't mean to sell Moka short, his production is always solid - soulful and melodic while at the same time being chunky and gritty, and he possess a confident and versatile flow that makes his "everyday-life" raps better than pretty much anyone I can think of.

To give the whole "putting it simple" thing another go, I can't think of another artist who makes records that are more perfect for "vibing out" than Moka. I do, however, wish I could think of a better phrase than "vibing out" though - as that sounds fairly lame. But it is a compliment, as I've made it all the way through Claptrap's 22 songs quite a few times, whereas a lot of the hip hop albums I hear these days start to feel like work after five or six songs.

Having a bangin' opener certainly helps draw the listener in, regardless of how many tracks your album has, and the computerized-soul of the self-titled starter on this album is mighty addictive. As creative as he is, you'd expect Moka to switch things up now and then, and the dark thump of Summer Stalker is indeed a solid change-up from his normal sound. The jazzy horn loop and floaty background vocals on Trinity Hill bring back the summer vibes in a hurry. Mos Eisley from Sweatshop Union makes a cameo on the knocking Me and Mo, and helps to highlight the fact that some of these songs really are too short. Hotels has a pretty thumping beat with a dash of soul, and is perhaps the best song I've heard that references Super 8. Sh*t Talkers is an infectious ode to both spaghetti and the loose-lipped amongst us. Album closer And I Love Her finds Moka showing his singing chops and reviving his tradition of finishing off with a sung jam.

In the end, I like Claptrap quite a bit. It isn't tremendously deep or challenging, but who cares really. It's hip hop that's both true and enjoyable, and that's an underrated combo in my humble. Moka is simply one of the real true talents we have in Canadian hip hop, and he's pretty much always going to have my recommendation. Check out Claptrap for yourself.

Posted at 10:39 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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