Braintax Biro Funk
This is Braintax's (long overdue) first album - "Biro Funk" - as expected it doesn't shirk on maintaining the quality reputation established over the last decade of Hip Hop manufacture. It took time to arrive but throughout the record you can tell nothing was left half-done n' quality control was a major issue.
On initial investigation I wasn't overly keen - I definitely noticed the high sound quality n' distinctive Lowlife/Braintax sound but felt that there wasn't much diversity across the 14 tracks. However - over the weeks I noticed it become a definite grower - gaining more and more airplay from the stereo. It certainly dispelled my initial reservation regarding having enough diversity to keep listener concentration. I came to realise this is a true LP in every sense in that it needs the listener to actually take heed because the secret is in the understated sublety. I can't really understate this enough - most LP records these days are just a collection of potential singles packaged together. The true essence of an LP is to give the potential for the listener to pick up a nuance every time from the 10th to the 110th listen. This record certainly does that - in honest its probably one of the only straight Hip Hop records I've listened through in one go - front to back - multiple times. Normally interest begins to wane as you learn the obvious strengths and weaknesses of the artists work. By carefully combining good sound quality with solid Hip Hop ideals the LP contains enough subtlety to keep the interest levels high for listen over listen. The LP works in a way that the sum of its parts are somehow stronger than the individual elements. A main element in this effect works through clever track sequencing - the core of the LP works exceptionally well as a body of music. I'm talkin tracks 10 thru to 13 where it really drives home the Braintax vibe. The album shows a high level of confidence - as you would expect if you've been conserving that Hip Hop LP juice for 10 fuckin years. This confidence is mebbe best exemplified by the inclusion of a lyric sheet (nice touch!).
The beats are handled by an array of names - mostly known and one unknown (Benny
Live) - with duties being split between Braintax, BenGrymm, Taskforce, Jehst, Harry Love and C-Swing. Not a bad lineup eh! I think most of the producers here were making beats in the style and template of Braintax's flow - in that they all fit his easy tempo n' don't overshadow like BOOM BAF BOOM across the vocals. Everything works at the right level to achieve harmony - I'm not a techie but probably that's got summat to do with a high quality mixdown. This does however mean that not many of the beats stamp they're foot across your face and grab your attention - perhaps bad news for a producers ego but good news for the balance of a record. In general, the breaks are all crisp and depth is created through well defined bass (although some variation in the hooks would've created a better feeling of diversity and time). Most of the funk fried beats are softened with string sweeps n' various musical elements. This is a general synopsis cos theres exceptions such as Taskforce's towering plink plonk beat on Godnose n' Braintax's own horn stab filled high octane entry on 'Riveria Hustle'.
As a harsh criticism I could say that Braintax doesn't dramatically change up his flow at all across the record - however - his lyrics are of the highest quality and in that respect the clear diction allows the listener maximum opportunity to catch the verbals. They are definitely worth catching - moving effortlessly from tales of real life situations, global politics, and everyday girl troubles into smart fantasy jaunts across countryside n' alternative lifestyles. The lyrics are bare class. Every track has a clear narrative and structure - theres no fillers n' bullshit skits on here. The ethos seems to be why waste space when you can be telling a tale n' giving the audience better value for their squids. The standout tracks from my perspective will probably differ over time but theres no fronting on the timeless quality of Jehst n' Braintax's collaboration "Riveria Hustle" - proper class that will raise a grin from the hardest screwface. Other tight tracks include - the funky 'Don't Drag Me In' which includes Mystro rippin a heavy verse, 'Escuchame' which sublimely gives up the latin swing, the list could go on. I gotta have one quick gripe though - cant be gettin too nice otherwise heads will stop sending me those email virus's I love. Skinnyman cant be a 'featuring' artist on 'Opening Titles' cos he literally raps two lines...its a bit of a joke really - maybe the last bus was due or summat.
I'm not into the track by track style of reviewing anymore cos it creates too much beef - so I'm at pains to point out that this is the type of LP that could only really be distilled into a track by track analysis but its on you to take on that task. In your front room - on the sofa - couple of beers in your claw n' a cushion for your head. Proper smoothness. I'm sure I'll be listening n' enjoying this LP in many years time cos it'll be sure to give you one of those 'just rediscovered' moments. Theres not many UK Hip Hop LP's of the last four years that have this potential - enjoy it.
- Smiffy | profile
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