Tab – Poet in the Dark (Jamendo)
Good production, good vocals, good lyrics, on a CC Hip-Hop album? Why yes, yes indeed and I was surprised too. For some reason the Creative Commons scene always seem to have trouble getting Hip-Hop right, generally there’s an abundance of good producers plying their trade but never having anything to do with Rappers, in fact they have trouble collaborating with anyone which is probably because they’re too busy being locked away with a computer and fantasies about their own little niche. Tab however is a pleasant exception to the usual way of things in that he invests equal amounts in both sides of Hip-Hop. Although his method may be a little demanding for most given that he both produces the majority of this album and raps on it too, as well as playing the guitar, which would stretch the talent and patience of most and leaves me wondering exactly what’s left for his usual group, The Dead Poets, to do when he’s not busy being a solo artist.
‘Poet in the Dark’ isn’t just a full album length wise it also feels like a complete product, well thought out and well made, no rough edges, no rough anything but a solid, well connected series of Trip-Hop fuelled tracks with the occasional bit of Rocking out to break it up. Which makes it even more impressive, guitars and Rap, well that’s normally shit, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is and with this album it does drag things more towards a sort of Pop Rock feel, albeit with an emphasis on the ‘Rock’ part but mostly it works well and doesn’t dive into the usual gutters of Hip-Hop/Rock crossovers. I’d still have to say that my preference throughout the album was definitely for the less guitar fuelled songs but even with that I still wouldn’t take anything away from the project as a whole.
Musically, as I said, it’s good, it’s accessible and easy to slip into which may turn some fans off Underground/Experimental stuff of given that it mostly feels like it’s made for a mass audience who don’t like too many innovations or oddities but there are a few nice touches in there which if you’re looking for them can prove interesting. For comparison I’m not sure who to draw up, oddly enough I’d almost say The Spooks, long forgotten group who had a few hits from an album where they basically just bigged themselves up without actually saying anything that was worth hearing or that separated them from the rest, harsh comparison on first read but they did have a few nice beats and they were from the same school as Tab’s relaxed, open work. And to invalidate my own name dropping there lyrically Tab is streets ahead, as with the music the lyrics are easily accessible and not too heavy, certainly never straying into the realms of aggression but they do linger nicely within the sphere of introverted, conscious Rap, intelligent enough to merit paying attention if not exactly mind blowing. Although vocally I did occasionally find myself thinking of Eminem which could just be my imagination playing tricks on me but it did throw me off a bit, that’s just a minor aside though and, let’s face it, plenty of people out there would view it as a positive even if it doesn’t always work for me.
So, download if you like a li’l bit of Hip-Hop, it’s amongst the best I’ve found out there when it comes to actual, lyrical, Rap.