Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reviews:: OK Cobra - Delirium Tremens

OK Cobra is a name I'd heard for some years in Canadian hip hop circles, but I must confess that until now I don't think I'd actually heard their music. I was more familiar with the duo because of the presence of frontman Fritz The Cat (aka Ryan Somers), and his near-mythical status in Canadian underground hip hop due to his role as the publisher of the infamous hip hop 'zine In Search Of...Divine Styler.

But this is OK Cobra we're talking about: a duo consisting of producer Recordface and the aforementioned MC Fritz The Cat. Delirium Tremens is their new album - a follow up to their critically acclaimed self-titled effort from 2006. And I'm pleased to report that Delirium Tremens is every bit as great as the pedigree of its creators had me anticipating it would be. It's a mature, very well executed hip hop album that not only re-enforces why so many of us are still very much in love with hip hop, but it also serves as a rebuttal of the strongest order for those who continue to trot out tired hip hop cliches about ho's & guns in a lame gambit to have some cheap laughs at the expense of a truly amazing culture.

I have no idea how old Ryan Somers is, but based on his affection for a golden age icon like Divine Styler, I'd have to guess he's in the same ballpark as myself. Although I like to think that still makes us relatively young men, Somers has clearly done & seen a lot in his time. Wisely he pours these experiences into the songs on Delirium Tremens, and that leaves the listener with a number of interesting narratives (autobiographical and fictional) on a wide-array of subjects. The album opens with Woodwork a pretty honest evaluation of Somers' "day job" as a bartender, and there are other introspective songs on the album, like the writers block-themed Promise, and the tremendously enjoyable Edie Brickell-based I Quit (I Gave Up). These songs might be personal in nature, but I think they cover themes that a lot of people can relate to.

But it doesn't end there, as there's also a painful breakup song (How You Doing?), a song about a nocturnal arsonist (The City Sleeps), some classic bravado-laced battle rap (100,00), and even a solid posse cut (Five Finger Discount). These songs are varied in subject matter and sound, but there's a consistent feel throughout the album, and a lot of credit for that must go to Mr. Recordface. I know nothing about him, but I like the sound of this record a lot. The intro, with its boom bap & scratches shows that Recordface knows from classic hip hop, but he's also un-afraid to experiment - things like the acoustic guitar added to Woodwork, the spacey electro of Camel Clutch, or the dubby feel to the seven minute plus epic The Schwinn Bike show this off.

There are other things I enjoy that deserve a mention: the contrast of the imposing electro sounds on the verses of How You Doing? juxtaposed with the mellow tone of the chorus (which also has a very familiar bassline that I can't quite place). There's also a perfect posse cut beat on Five Finger Discount, aurally interesting, but not overpowering so as to let the MC's take centre stage (also sounds like it uses a didgeridoo for the bassline which, if true, is very awesome). As I mentioned already, I Quit (I Gave Up) appears to be built around Circle from Edie Brickell, which makes it my second favorite Brickell-based hip hop song (rather impressive when you consider what's number one). The simplicity of Beautiful, both its addictive guitar riff and Somers' world-weary, almost Buck65-like flow makes it a favorite (the chorus here also seems vaguely Brickell-related as well).

So then, with all that said, how about we welcome OK Cobra back to the Canadian hip hop fold by giving Delirium Tremens a listen? If you like well-made, thoughtful hip hop, I doubt you'll regret it.

MP3:: OK Cobra - I Quit (I Gave Up)

VIDEO:: OK Cobra - I Quit (I Give Up)

Posted at 1:30 PM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 11:39 PM, Blogger ryan somers did sayeth:

thanks for listening.


At 10:39 AM, Blogger Mustard did sayeth:

Sweet Track!!!


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