UK Hip Hop: Artists & Discographies
Artists and Discographies index
HKB:Finn - Acoustic Afro Hip Hop CD [Savage Music]

HKB:Finn - Acoustic Afro Hip Hop CD [Savage Music]
01. My Cup
02. Confession (I Am)
03. Finnterlude Mode One
04. Miss A Rebel
05. Baby Love ft. Eska Mtungwasi
06. Eponymous (Anthem)
07. Rhythm Is Our Methods
08. Lifesaver duet w/ Maya Jobarteh
09. Finnterlude Mode 2
10. Archetype
11. What If?
12. Journey To The Inner

I was lucky enough to get down to Soho to see HKB Finn performing a few tracks off his new LP in an informal shop setting just down from Deal Real. By the time we reached the place was packed and people were spilling out onto the streets, and the vibe for me was one of anticipation and expectation. HKB has been down for years and was at the forefront of the first wave spearheaded by MOL. HKB has worked with everyone you care to mention, having learned well from his wealth of experiences he is continuing to take his music in new directions and Acoustic Afro Hip Hop does follow on from, and expand upon his previous Vitalistics LP on Son records.

In the shop HKB was sat on a stool with a big bass bongo drum between his legs, with his guitarist and bassist to his left and more bongo drummers to the right. This, like the vibe of his new LP, although amplified was raw and acoustic. HKB went off on one as he closed his eyes and let his lyrics carry him away. In the tiny setting the music filled the space and sounded really good. This is largely laid back relaxing fare and at the same time is something to sway to. HKB is both thoughtful and confident on the mic as well as being deeply personal and observational. His laid back conversational style draws you in and envelops you as if you were the only person he is speaking to.

Spurred on by both the acclaim from his fans and the financial aspects of his long awaited debut LP on Son records Finn was able to focus on making the music he wanted to and explore different aspects of the art form he had been producing for years. The resulting LP, Acoustic Afro Hip Hop can on occasion be a touch self indulgent and wallowy or sentimental in parts is overall a distinctive body of work with a definite African feel and some mellow grooves which should appeal to a wide spectrum of listeners. There are deep basses and riffs coupled to remarkable choruses and hooks and of course HKB's own vocals and flows.

The LP opens up with My Cup, which sets the scene for the rest of the LP with a gentle guitar refrain and a bongo backing. A ticking drum finishes off the mix for an infectious track in which HKB:Finn elaborates on the new styles he is experimenting with. The invigorating thing about this LP s that HKB:Finn hasn't really become embittered after his years in the industry. Whilst he articulates his troubles at the same time he maintains a thankful and optimistic attitude. Confession follows, with a heavy bass and gentle but funky backing for Finn to let us know the attributes that make him what he is. Across the twelve track LP there are only a couple of short Finnterludes and quite a few stand out moments which include Miss A Rebel which is powered by its bass line provided by Tunde Jegede who adds to the production on most of the tracks and the deeply chanted, 'Miss a rebel' chorus. This properly bounces live, but is infact a deep exploration of relationships.

Baby Love is another high poi
nt on a bit more of an upbeat vibe. Reggae is infused into this track as are the female vocals provided by Eska Mtungwasi which underpin the back and forth conversation nature of the lyrics. Eponymous fuses African and Latin / Spanish vibes for HKB to brief everyone on how he got to where he is now and listening to the guitars and trumpets I can picture myself listening to this sitting back looking out over a sandy beach with a glass of something cold in my hand absorbing some rays, just what is needed on a cold winters day. Rhythm Is Our Methods is a bit of a break in the middle of the LP with gentle guitars and minimal beats apart from some percussion. As with many of the tacks this is quite long at six and a half minutes, but can carry the length because of the variety offered by the arrangement, something which is afforded by the use of live instruments and musicians who can riff on a theme. On this Finn's lyrics are limited to short spurts of heartfelt spoken word. All of this is different to what I had expected from the title, but as with the other tracks if you allow it in it can be appreciated.

The laid back spoken word vibe continues on the duet with Maya Jobarteh, Lifesaver. Opening with just a guitar HKB states how in the past he has called out for help to be saved and no one has heard his cries. I can identify with the sentiments, but the rendition is bit as if HKB is feeling a bit too sorry for his situation, but never the less it must be hard to lay ones self open like this. Archtype brings back the funky bass for a more standard Hip Hop bumper on which HK describes several stereotypes of people he has observed. As the LP winds up, the penultimate track What If? which is taken from the Son released Vitalistics for a track which HKB obviously rates. HKB asks a mad variety of questions and asks what if those scenarios were true. All of the questions he asks make you think, but one of the less appealing facets to this album and the commentary is the leanings towards religion and HKB Finn's beliefs. While I can take on board much of what Finn says I can't take it to that next level ad firmly state that god is the answer!

Journey To The Inner brings tom Skinner on the drums to the forefront of the mix and rounds off an enthralling LP which is definitely on a different tip to most stuff out there at the moment. As the title suggests this track repeatedly encourages one to take a moment out for introspection. Something which is necessary to prevent yourself going mental. HKB says that he stumbled upon this sound and for me it works. When done right, like the early Brand New Heavies and some of the Roots etc, Hip Hop with live instrumentation can work. It can also fail abysmally, but here Finn has largely triumphed and produced a strong LP. Other guests and musicians w
ho are featured on the LP and deserve a mention for their contributions include: the Grumbles, Maya Jobarteh, Derek Johnson, Robert Mitchell, Eugene Skeef amongst others. Peep it.
HKB Finn live @ Savage Music, London HKB Finn live @ Savage Music, London

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