Seeing Ghettosocks do his set as the closer for the 2010 HPX version of the Herohill showcase reminded me of two things: 1. Live hip hop can still be a tremendous amount of fun when done right – and as I’ve said a number of time in the past, G-Socks does it absolutely correct, and 2. I needed to get a post up for Timbuktu’s latest album, Stranger Danger. Tim joined Socks for a good portion of his set (Halifax hip hop legend DJ Jorun was on the wheels for the entire set, which was really rather awesome) and the result was so much fun that the Ack (who hasn’t been impressed two MC”s and one DJ since group had names that started with “EP” and ended with “MD”) turned to me at one point and said, “I like this Timbuktu guy”.
Well I do too, and I like his new album a ton as well. Not that surprising really, as I pretty much like anything that comes out of the Backburner collective, but you know, even the best crews produce something that doesn’t work at some point. That’s not the case here at all, I’m happy to report. Timbuktu (also known as 1/3 of London hip hop outfit Toolshed) has his own style, one that melds a ramshackle, borderline-lascivious charm with top-shelf MC skills and storytelling ability. Add this to the carefully crafted production featured on this album, done by folks like Fresh Kils (who along with Tim, seems to have handled the majority of the production duties), Bix, and Halifax’s own Jorun Bombay, along with much-appreciated DJ work from folks like Bombay, Irate and Uncle Fester, and you’ve got a winning formula, one that makes Stranger Danger a can’t miss listen as far as Canadian hip hop records from 2010 are considered.
Stranger Danger is 15 very strong songs, which are weaved into each other using odd vocal snippets – some related to the album title, some just randomly enjoyable (from Pump Up The Volume, Dr. Steve Brule, A Dylan press conference, Spinal Tap, etc), and the tracklist is littered with highlights. The album opens very strongly, with Rock Radio, which mixes methodical, head nodding production and a catchy Helen Reddy vocal sample with Tim’s rapid-fire delivery. I mean it as a large compliment when I say Grown Man’s Dinner is simply sublime hip hop ridiculousness at it’s best. The beat will make it impossible to stay still, and Tim’s food-related rhymes will make it impossible not to smile (aided an awesome Cee-Lo scratch-in: “fried chicken, macaroni & cheese”). This one continues the tradition of high-caliber food-related Backburner rap songs recently begun with songs like More or Les & Fresh Kils’ Pop & Chips and Ghettosocks’ Out For Treats.
Authority Figures features a fantastic & classic hip hop beat with big drums, horn stabs and plenty of scratched in samples providing the backdrop for spicey older lady tales from Tim, G-Socks & Muneshine (aka Twin Peaks). Fans of traditional, braggadocios hip hop should be happy with songs like Fishcakes, which has a beat heavy on guitar, plenty of battle-ready punch lines and a chorus heavy on “shoutalongwithability” which is a word I’ve just invented and patented in this one sentence, and The New Science, which is throwback hip hop fun at it’s best really, and features Halifax, nay, Canadian hip hop legend DJ Jorun on the beats and the wheels of steel, and is almost more fun than should be allowed in 3+ minutes.
The latter portion of the album manages to finish very strong, with X-Files, that features extraterrestrial raps from Tim, Chokeules, and D-Sisive (or Derek from Northcliffe?) over a spooky beat and a chorus with the line “proves that a tinfoil hat is a fresh style” which I enjoy a great deal. There’s also Memory Stew – there’s something about this beat, somewhat low-key favorite, but certainly one of my favorites on the album, and the awesome Posse Cut Smell The Glove, which has to be mt favorite Canadian posse cut since Classified had a couple solid ones on his last album.
Contrary to the album’s title, Tim projects a ton of charisma and likability on Stranger Danger, making that audible candy he has on offer mighty tempting. But why would you be resisting anyway? Unless you’re actively trying to avoid hearing one of the best Canadian hip hop releases from this year, Timbuktu is one Stranger posing little Danger to anyone interested in good music.