Sweatshop Union - The Bill Murray EPI have to say, I do enjoy having a guess at the meaning behind things like songs & album titles, even though I am rarely correct. If I were to hazard a guess at the intent behind Vancouver hip hop collective Sweatshop Union naming their new EP The Bill Murray EP it would be some analogy along the lines of “they’ve tried the major studio approach in the past and now they are making music their way, doing what they believe in”.


Or, they may just really enjoy Bill Murray movies, I have no idea. What I do know, is that if you’re planning to listen to the best Canadian hip hop records this year, you best include the Bill Murray EP.


The email we got for the album says that the “experimental concept album is best described as a runaway mushroom trip through the cosmos”, but quite honestly, other than the metaphysical leanings of album opener Makeshift Kingdom, it could have been described as “a smooth running voyage through real life for fans of true-school hip hop”. With finely-crafted, personal songs about things like love & fatherhood (Nuclear Family), bringing real music back (to MTV and everywhere else on the D-Sisive featuring Bring Back The Music), having steeldrum-tinged hope in the face of life’s everyday challenges (John Lennon), and good ol’ fashioned braggadoccio (Bill Murray, which uses Bill Murray movie refs aplenty, natch), there isn’t too much experimental about this EP.


That is, unless you consider today’s hip hop so mixed up that making a solid album full of songs that everyone can relate to “experimental”, then this EP is indeed experimental in spades. If you ask me, it’s just good ol’ fashioned hip hop, which is what we all want, right? It’s got good production from Sweatshop Union themselves, along with veteran west coast producer Rob The Viking, and although it often deviates a bit from your standard, boom-bap hip hop production (this could be where some of the experimental-ness comes in), I think it sounds great from top to bottom.


Lyrically and vocally, the EP is very tight as well. This is a group/collective full of experienced MC’s, and it shows. As I mentioned previously, the guys are able to make entertaining songs about subjects other than rapping or swag, which is refreshing, and they are also un-afraid to mix up their deliveries. It’s impressive to hear them switch between somber and serious feel of Nuclear Family to the almost ominous, double-time-at-times flows on Staring At The Walls, and the playfulness of Bill Murray.


When I reviewed Age Like Astronauts from Sweatshopers Pigeon Hole, I wondered if maybe I’d been missing out by not really being up on Sweatshop Union before. The Bill Murray EP reveals that yes, I believe I was. Well that problem has been solved for me, and I’d heartily suggest you go grab the album EP for yourself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I’m going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Oh, you thought you’d get through this review without a Bill quote? Nay my friend, nay.


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MP3:: Sweatshop Kingdom - Makeshift Kingdom
WEB:: www.sweatshopunion.com