05 Mar Trading Tunes with SO.Crates x Nelson Dialect x Alnitak Kid
If you’re confused by the title of this project, than you’re not alone. I honestly thought the very talented trio of SO.Crates, Nelson Dialect and Alnitak Kid had come together to create a project called Sunset Cities where the debut album was self-titled. Instead, the project is simply under the name of the three separate projects. Now that the confusion is cleared up, we can talk why this is one of the best Australian hip-hop album releases, period, and why I’m so keen for what the future has in store for this trio of collaborators.
There are three elements that standout with this project. Layered production, chemistry and no shortage of lyrical topics. The combination of those three is very hard to find. Often the best producers aren’t huge on lyrical conversations. There’s groups that have chemistry and enthusiasm, but rely too heavily on momentum to make up for other shortcomings. And there’s those lyrical poets, whose best weapon is pen and paper, not keyboards and Ableton. Sunset Cities isn’t perfect, but it masks holes extremely well. Those few minor tweaks (mixing up the verse structures) are easily achievable on further release. Given how busy these three projects are separately, it’s a miracle that they were able to produce a product as polished as Sunset Cities.
The whole album flows seamlessly without blurring indistinguishably (think Toro Y Moi), never drags and keeps you interested until the final decibel without relying on bombarding gimmicks. They don’t put too many cooks in the kitchen either, with just two guest appearances; this sharpens the album’s narrative. Sunset Cities isn’t a sound we haven’t heard before, it definitely traces back to early ’90s New York hip-hop instrumental glides. But I state that as a big compliment, as you could slide any of these tracks into a mix-tape of that era, and nobody would blink an eye. There’s a three track sequence, that made me lift both eyebrows, ponder and look around the room (I would’ve tweeted about it if my phone wasn’t broken). It starts with the interlacing of vocals and instrumentation on ‘Bright On‘. Then the shady, body twitching, ‘Jay Elec‘, that’s its own animal. Reminds me of the production found on Cancer 4 Cure by EL-P, which is high-end fidelity. Then rounded off by ‘Black Tapes‘, which had me not transported back in time, but rather to a studio headspace I didn’t know existed in Australia.
Sunset Cities was released February 22nd via the always trustworthy Bedroom Suck Records label.
T R A C K L I S T
|1. Stay A While|
|2. Oh Baby ft. Jace XL|
|3. Bounce If You Open ft. Mike Thesis|
|4. Know Doubt|
|5. Burning Slow (Sunsets)|
|6. Bright On|
|7. Jay Elec|
|8. Black Tapes|
|10. Somebody Believes In You|
The trio chose the Trading Tunes theme of favourite VHS songs: “This tied in with our last single ‘Black Tapes’, an ode to growing up in the 80’s surrounded by stacks of VHS tapes, with your eyes glued to the screen late into the night.”
Killpoint (1984) – ‘Opening Theme’
“It has synths, it has terminator drum machines, it has sizzling guitar licks and my Dad stars as random thug #3.”
E-Rule – ‘Listen Up’
“Rap is like pot making. This joint achieves ideal forms.”
Souls of Mischief – ‘Cabfare’
“This track is like a time machine into an old dream on VHS. Hazy cushions of melodies floating above a crunchy drum break with charismatic story telling letting you peer through the orange sun-faded tint back into the 70’s so you can ride in a taxi with Bob James and Andy Kaufman. It’s also just a straight jam.”
Public Enemy – ‘Burn Hollywood Burn’
“”Yeah ill check out a movie, but it’ll take a black one to move me” – Chuck D, Ice Cube & Big Daddy Kane over groundbreaking Hank Shocklee production tearing shreds through the racist Hollywood movie industry. Back when rappers weren’t afraid to tell the entertainment power structures what time it was. Now everyone wants to be Hollywood.”
Wu Tang Clan – ‘Wu Tang Clain Ain’t Nothing to Fuck Wit’
“This one is only linked to VHS in my mind. At some point in high school i taped a hip hop heavy episode of Rage and even though i’d had this album for years, to this day when i hear “tiger style, tiger style” it takes me back to sitting on the floor of my parents lounge room watching and re-watching that tape, breaking it, re-spooling it and watching it again.”