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Where were you approximately 20 years ago? Me? I was a middle school hip hop head, who loved Eric B and Rakim, 3rd Bass, and, of course, MC Hammer. I was also into the sub genre of hip-house, which typically featured the quick tempos and electronic drums and synthesizers of house music mixed with the samples, scratches and vocal style of rap music. Groups like 2 In a Room, LA Style and Black Box succeeded in melding the two genres with aplomb, and while they may seem dated in 2010, trust me...in the early 90s, we loved that stuff. Well...I did anyway.
In a way, Flynn Adam's new EP, 'Bang the Drums,' is a successor to early 90s hip house in a lot of ways. The drum sounds, the modulated vocals, the myriad synthesizer sounds...they all combine to form a fun reminder of my youth, and an invitation to get out of your seat and move. But, more than that, he's taking a chance. The idea of taking a long forgotten, and much maligned sub-genre and updating it for 2010 could've come off as cheesy, or it could have been treated as nothing more than a novelty. However, the first three songs of the EP are a masterful take on what hip house might sound like if it were fresh for 2010. The title track does exactly what it says, it definitely bangs the drums. On the first listen, the bass drum totally reminded me of the bass drum from LA Style's "James Brown is Dead." The second track, "It's So Wonderful", lays the vocals over a beat that makes me think of breakbeats of several mid 90s jungle tracks. The third track, "Yeah!", has a wonderfully bouncy beat, and a great hook, that totally makes me want to get up and dance. The beat actually reminds me of De La Soul's anti-hip-house track, "Kicked Out the House", which was a great hip house song in and of itself. There's more great effects work here, including a section where it sounds as if Flynn's vocals have been run through a flanger, which cancels part of the single. Flanging was an oft used technique in early 90s house music, and it really works here. There are a two more tracks, "All Me" which moves away from hip house to a more standard (relatively speaking) beat. There is still great synthesizer work on this track, and even though it's not the same as the first three tracks, it fits in with them. However, the last track, "Up From Here" is a fun little track that breaks with the first four songs, in that it's a simple guitar and drum song. It's also the most lyrically complex track on the album, and provides a nice little dessert after the repetition of the main course.
Knowing, and appreciating, Flynn Adam's earlier work with LA Symphony, I know that he is a capable MC who delivers thoughtful, well written and delivered lyrics. But if hip house really ever had a weakness, it was that the lyrics almost always took a back seat to the beats and the hooks. Lyrical repetition is to be expected on hip house tracks, and the vocal modulation and effects serves to switch up the sound, even when lyrics are being banged into your head. Unfortunately, 'Bang the Drums' does not give listeners who are unfamiliar with Flynn Adam any sort of insight into his true skill as a lyricist and MC.
But, let's face it, hip house was never meant to be a vehicle for tightly crafted, complex lyricism. It was a vehicle to get people on dance floors, and make them move. With the tight drums and throwback synthesizer sounds present on 'Bang the Drums,' Flynn Adam has done just that
Purchase on AmazonMP3 or iTunes
Release Date: May 25, 2010
1. Bang The Drumss
2. It's So Wonderful
4. All Me
5. Up From Here