Grüün – Kraut-Hop (iD.EOLOGY)
It’s always a half arsed sort of job when I review foreign language Hip Hop. Sure, I can cover the music well enough, which to me is the generally the main point anyway, but I always feel a dash of discomfort when I start pontificating upon the lyrical qualities. Of course usually I just view it as another layer to the sound, an instrument which carries itself with the same weight as any other but there’s still a level of ignorant prescriptiveness contained in whatever I say fuelled at least in part by my own habitual biases and stereotyping.
For example Russian’s a heavy language, slightly brutal even, at least when it’s being used in Rap and my natural inclination is to view it as an industrial tool within music; Russian Rappers are dark, brooding and even post-apocalyptic even if, for all I know, they’re rapping about how much they love kittens and what they’re buying for their mother’s birthday. Spanish, on the other hand, is almost the opposite; it’s lighter, feels faster and lends itself to a big, head bouncing sound, even if they’re rapping about drive-bys, their blooming Crack empire and how many ho’s they’ve got at home. Simple definitions which probably skip over all sorts of nuances and depth hidden within what I’m hearing but what’s a boy to do eh? Especially one who’s far too lazy to bother learning anything. I persevere either way with, presumably, mixed success and I still maintain that not understanding a word you’re hearing doesn’t detract from the quality of what’s being done even if what you get out of it is a million miles from whatever the artist intended to put in.
Anyway, to the point of today’s little diatribe, a new album from the iD.EOLOGY NetLabel, who’ve always struck me as being one of the more together groups out there in the vast wastes of the internet. This time it’s Grüün representing the label with their half-album/half-EP ‘Kraut-Hop’, proving as they do that Hip Hop really does have an infinite amount of sub-genres by sole virtue of people always feeling the need to stick something in front of the ‘-Hop’ for effect. Packing in 12 tracks as it does there’s a lot being shoe horned into this relatively short offering (which just tops 37 minutes), which results in a very Poppy feeling to the short, relatively light tracks contained. It’s still standing on a fine line despite that immediate impression though, it’s not quite waving the Pop flag given the more experimental elements to the beats but it’s close enough to the more consumable end of Hip Hop not to merit much recognition from the darker recesses of the Alternative/Experimental scene either. That’s no bad thing either way of course, the middle ground here being arguably the most listenable between the excesses of random noise making at one end and the bland repetetiveness of the other and in their position Grüün are working fairly effectively. There are enough moments here to get the head nodding at least a couple of times in a sitting, even if you’re not exactly submerged in the sound as you do. But I don’t think that lack of ‘intellectual’ focus would be of any surprise to the producer who’s set out a fairly clear intention to lend mass appeal to the album with a collection of fairly open electronic beats with the occasional dash of Dance-y enthusiasm.
And, turning to the lyrics, I’ll swing back around to my opening point about my own ignorance on the subject. The MCing here, like the album as a whole, stands between two opposing camps. At times there are traces of the sort of heavy, driving aggression of someone like SCLWN but they’re just about slight enough to escape any real comparisons, especially given that a far bigger force here is a lighter style which whilst it has a bit of an edge to it isn’t threatening to the listener.
Anyway, this is already getting rather long by the standards of my lil’ corner of the internet so I’ll finish up here. Kraut-Hop is certainly worth a listen for your average Hip-Hop conasuir and even if you don’t get sucked into the album to the degree of having it on repeat for days on end it’ll still make for a worthwile entry into your collection.