UK Hip Hop: Artists & Discographies
Plant Life - The Return Of Jack Splash LP [Gut Records]
Plant Life - The Return Of Jack Splash LP [Gut Records]
01. Jacks Back
02. Appreciate
03. Underwaterluvboogie
04. When She Smiles She Lights The Sky
05. We Can Get High
06. Bottle Of Hope (Save The World)
07. Why’d U Call
08. Real Folks
09. The Last Song
10. Got2get2gether4luv
11. Two Beautiful Souls
12. Beautiful Babies
13. Luv Me (Til It Hurts)
14. The Girl Said…Give It To Me!
15. Luv For The World
16. Precious Heart
17. Table 4 2
18. If I Wuz Ur Man
19. New Day
This Plant Life is a real gem of a find. It is very retrospective and acoustic sounding and is really quite refreshing to pop in the CD player and let it play through. It is retrospective because of the funk and soul influences, but also hybrid in the fact that it is a refreshing new and. It is very relaxed and there really isn't much aggro going on here and as such it can leave you with a good feeling after listening to it. Many of the tracks are quite short, but each one creates its own groove that swings along. On the sleeve people like Mos Def are quoted as saying, "Just what I have been looking for, a new generation of funk", Giles Peterson says, "Step aside Outkast, we have Plant Life people", and the Chemical Brothers stated, "When we first heard of Plantlife we knew there was something different going on... They were pushing the buttons of electronic wonder while giving us the sweat and funk of humanity. There is a beautiful techno funk combo happening within!". I have to agree with all these sentiments, the sweet and generally gentle high pitched singing of the lead singer is delivered with feeling and is articulate with the thoughts espoused. All forms of instrumentation are employed in the production ranging from guitars and tubular bells and keyboards, through the omnipresent drums and occasional touch of scratching. In today's music scene I'm not sure that there is anything comparable to this band putting in work, but looking back they could be in the same vein as someone like Gil Scott Heron or some Prince's more inspired work.

The four piece band hail from LA and is comprised from Jack Splash, the main singer, Panda One, the main producer, Dena Deadly on vocals and Rashida The Beautiful which is on the cuts and adds some vocals as well. Whilst there is serious social commentary looking at relationships, drugs and the societal problems in LA, there is still an uplifting and sunny disposition engendered by the delivery and sublime instrumentation. There is no heavy rapping on here and the majority of the opening half of the LP is down tempo, rising in speed towards the middle of the playlist. The Last Song (which appears right in the middle of the LP) is the first faster track and for which the volume on the kick drum is turned up and a heavy electro bassline added along with a hand clap snare and a pitch shifted semi G-Funk synth. Got2get2gether4luv continues the upbeat vibe with a disco infused stormer driven by the funky plucking of a guitar. There is a fair amount of love songs on here and tracks like Two Beautiful Souls fell a little short for me, but the following Beautiful Babies is sublime. This is sort of like Lenny Kravitz, but remove the hard rock edge and replace it with more groovesome soul and funk and you have a more appealing offering.

The LP starts off with some nice crackle from a needle drop and a short intro track which incorporates many of the elements you can hear in more depth later on. Appreciate is all about the appreciation of fine females and has some lush production. Lots of guitars get busy, but they are understated and add to the rhythm, but don't overpower the track as they would when distrted up for a rock track. Underwaterluvboogie has a particularly modern sounding electronic bassline, but which is timeless as it could be some complex Stanley Clark along with well sequenced drums which ake you want to shake your thang. The following When She Smiles and We Can Get High are stand outs due to the sheer funk of them which won't allow you to ignore the professionalism of the musicans and their ear for a great sounding mix.

Luv Me Till It Hurts comes over a bit sterile, like the band are painting by numbers, but the depth of the sound can't be faulted ad considering the number of sounds going on as ever they have done well to fit it all together seamlessly. Tracks like The Girl Said stand out for the infectious bassline and Luv For The Word for its strummed guitar, whereas Precious Heart starts off less impressively due to its repetitive guitar which seems to be a bit out of place, but as the track progresses it seems to have a familiarity which I can't put my finger on, most likely because the track I'm trying to identify is some indie thing which may have been on an advert or some such. The penultimate track, If I Was Ur Man takes the tempo right down for a really Prince sounding track before the whole CD finishes off with another slow heart tugger in the form of the melancholy piano and string based song New Day, which although sounds sad is in fact a message that one can start again after a failed relationship and not all is lost.

The band certainly have their own look going on, which involves a simplistic but effective design and watered down muted pastel colours, the CD booklet also containing all the lyrics and once again I am reminded how few words there are in other forms of music and how hard it is to divulge as much information as you can in Hip Hop. Regardless, each track tackles a topic, usually connected to some form of emotion and stick it to you for about three minutes. I was quite taken by this release and I suggest you have a look out for t as well.

Hip Hop Connection “rap kids should give thanks” 4/5

Time Out “Exquisite, falsetto-voiced pimp funk that’s going to be all over the place this autumn. Think OutKast, think Prince, think The Neptunes – and then crank up to fever pitch.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Plant Life yet then you haven’t been listening to the right people. With the likes of Mos Def, Cee-lo, Slum Village and Kanye West bigging them up in the states, and Gilles Peterson and The Chemical Brothers flying the flag over here, they are already gaining underground respect in all the right places.

  • 24th November - Fiddlers, Bristol
  • 25th November - Cargo, London
  • 26th November - Stars of Mayfair, Sheffield
  • 27th November - The Cross, Birmingham
  • 28th November -  Maida Vale Studios, (Gilles Peterson Session, Radio 1)

Debut Single: “When She Smiles She Hits The Sky” – out February 2005. Full Album Release: “The Return of Jack Splash” summer 2005.

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