I don’t usually review albums, but after listening to The Menagerie’s latest slice of hip-hop goodness, Odd Beast I felt the urge …
I’ll admit it, I’ve got a bit of musical man-crush of Doc Syntax, especially the stuff he’s done with Tom Caruana’s beats – seriously check ‘A Slice of Fried Gold‘ to see some of the best of British hip-hop from the last few years – but I I didn’t realised he had a history with my other favourite Brightonian MC and premier professional Pith helmet wearer, Professor Elemental.
Their debut, Wild Kindgom was released 12 years ago, and I was in the middle of dad-dom when the follow up came out a couple of years back so missed it, but this one, this one I’m ready for, and it’s rather lovely.
The beats are classic Caruana, brilliantly dug and funky as hell, giving two of the UK’s finest flow-meisters room to bob and weave bars round each other like a pair of pissed up punters being poured out of the pub after kicking out time.
The scene is set by the kick-off, with Walking with Canes as an intro, all jazzy funk samples, great beats, and the Prof and the good Doctor bouncing off one another like a pair of powerballs.
Stand out tracks for me are Make Good Art, a paean to doing the best work you possibly can, and the kind of track I want my kids to listen to, which flows seamlessly into the smooth jazz laced stylings of Up, where Syntax really shows off his verbal flexibility. The bars on She’s Gone and Only a Game had me chuckling out loud, and Come On and will definitely be getting played out in future.
There’re a couple of nice cameos of by Clev Cleverly and Al the Native, and it’s nice to hear the Prof doing something slightly straighter-faced than his usual, though he does drop some beautifully nerdy references to the Necronomicon, Kirby Krackle, Star Trek and Logans Run, which as a self confessed geek myself, I enjoyed.