Funky Fresh Few - However You Want
It 12" [Grand Central]
This trio of Blackpool based
producers were one of the first acts to come out on Grand Central Records and
although they haven't released much they have been very tightly linked with the
label. Hermit like, they have beavered away sealed off from more
metropolitan influences and have done their own thing. This 12" sees four of the best tracks culled from the Stealing LP
and features a variety of styles. There's a posse cut with some top NY MCs, a
track with another US MC, one UK MC and an instrumental. Initially you might
think that this will suffer from the problem that besets so many UK production
teams that aren't regularly hooked up with their own MCs, and that is an over
preponderance of US bias on the lyrics. Here the imports hold their own and the
full length LP goes a little way to redress this balance.
The plain black disco bag with orange and white sticker
produces a very heavy record, literally a fat piece of wax. The opening track is
the one I'm feeling the most and is However You Want It the
aforementioned posse cut. The backing is really a showcase for this production
team and the track certainly didn't go stale in its long gestation period. The production is super heavy,
the track opening with stomping drums and the orchestral strings riff which
perpetuates the track. This is dark and repetitive and in its simplicity makes
for an almost perfect beat for MCs to spit over. However You Want It has Jimmy
Grand a rookie open up with the first verse. Craig G of Marly Marl's Juice Crew
and fresh from penning many of the battle lyrics for 8 Mile takes up the reins
for a splendid outing and Dirt Diggla, another new cat completes the trio. All the MCs spit nicely, but it is all about Craig G's verse in the middle in which he describes some of the incidents that have gone down in the UK whilst he has been over here. Westwood, Cornwall, Skinnyman and Mr Bongos amongst a whole load of other uniquely UK things get referenced.
The engineering has all the elements at the right levels and this track stayed
on the turntable and received quite a few repeat plays.
Long Island MC QNC features on
You Know Who This Is which is a pretty creditable effort, but laks the
quality of the opener. It is especially nice to hear a US MC tailoring their lyrics to reference the UK and the connection there with the
producers, although unfortunately he does sound a bit back in the mix and with
his relaxed style of delivery doesn't have much of an impact. The live sounding
drums are accompanied with a continuous organ tone, pretty much unwavering it
adds a sinister vibe. Various phrases are cut up in the chorus, but the cuts are
a little sloppy and lack the surgical accuracy one might expect these days.
Never the less it can be refreshing to hear somebody just having fun on a deck,
not having to take themselves too seriously.
On the flip side 24.7 features a UK based MC, who I have not checked for before, called Wig.
Apparently he's from Stratford and with his other offerings on the LP is a name
to look out for. The track reminds me of something the Subsonic 2 might have done in the early 90's,
being a touch more uptempo making use of the a bleep every four bars. The smooth
bassline is the other main element, with pianos and a high sound providing the
padding and body to the track. Really the soundscape is quite complex and well
orchestrated. It is a sign of quality when producers can incorporate so many
disparate elements into a track and still make it sound simple and homogeneous.
With Wig having a friendly descriptive voice and the spoken manner of his
delivery this track has retro throwbacks. Wig covers a vast amount of topics
from observing his surroundings, a bit of reminiscing and even Bush dropping
bombs on Iraq. I do really feel this sleepy vibe and once again the samples, although familiar have been flipped to make a great backing. The mellow vibe of the tracks may not be
everyone's cup of tea, but I can only say how I feel about it.
To round up then, Heavyweight, a beat which really lives up to its title and
again allows the Funky Fresh Few to cram it full of sounds they have collected.
There is a squeaky pram wheel or something along with a plink that could be
something from the kitchen, but the main thing is the full strings which add
much of the power. This is a real nice beat and with all its nuances doesn't
necessarily need the augmentation of an MC.
If there isn't enough goodness for you here, then be sure to pick up the
Stealing LP which has plenty more top tunes...