UK Hip Hop: Artists & Discographies
Urban Renewal Programme EP [Ninja Tune]
Various Artists - Urban Renewal Programme
Various Artists - Urban Renewal Programme
This EP is a sampler of tracks that are culled from the compilation, where both Ninja Tune and the US based Chocolate Industries record label collaborated, each contributing several tracks towards the 18 track deep CD. Here we still have a reasonably diverse selection within the four tracks, but have left behind much of the meandering and experimental stuff. The CD sampler opens with a Diverse and Mos Def collaboration, which comes over as very laid back with its gentle and meliflous vocal delivery and floaty strings. Along with the descending progression of string sounds and squelchy bass Prefuse 73's beat is something original and is perforated with all sorts of unusual electronic and digital distortions as well as freaky sounds which you would think would be out of place, but actually are well done and add to the track. The song title of Wylin Out is a bit misleading, I'm not sure why it gets that name. 

For the second track the vibe immediately switches up for the original fast, big word, regardless of beat trendy rapper Aesop Rock and his lyrics of distress on his Train Buffer. The production is by El-P who provides a complex and varied backing. A collage of disparate samples cropped to perfection with an incessant and repetitive quickly plucked guitar and heavy bass. This will go down well in smoky dimly lit basements, this is a real heavy head nodder. Tune! 

RJD2 who provides a couple of things to the long player has his own track, True Confessions included here, where he continues to keep it real with an impressive instrumental groove which opens with a catholic confessing to their priest/father, until it is rudely superceded by an orchestral string vibe and plenty of noisy open hi-hats and electric guitar for the intro and bridge etc, which is interspersed with the complete opposite vibe of floaty celestial whistles and sympathetic keys, when the confessions of robbing car stereos continues. RJD2 weaves a complex mish mash of sounds and influences to to create his own hybrid sound, neither Hip Hop, Rock, Grunge or Folk, just today's urban mixing pot where everything gets thrown into the mix. Nice as it is I'm feeling the more Hip Hop track off the LP with the Souls more. 

Tortoise apparently usually a rock band hailing from Chicago drop the final track, C.T.A. a track that gently brings the vibe back down, with a minimalist almost improvised jazz feeling track. The track builds slowly throughout with increasing energy as each instrument steps to the for until we are listening to a totally different track to the one we began with. Stanley Clarke vibes abound here from the live instrumentation to the jazz fusion feel. The CD also includes the instrumental versions of the Mos Def and Aesop Rock tracks, which if you already own the LP would be the only reason for you to be picking this up. If you haven't tasted the LP yet, this, then is an ideal entry point into the whole Urban Renewal Programme and gives you a feel for what you can expect. That is an eclectic collection of tracks from across a variety of Hip Hop spawned genres.

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Check the full Urban Renewal Programme LP review


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