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Hyder Ali “Careless Talk” Review

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When done well, I am a big fan of hip hop bands. While I often find myself underwhelmed by new “traditional” hip hop based around samples and programmed beats, I think there are still lots of cool angles to be discovered using the guitar, bass, and drums. Hyder Ali, a new group out of Minneapolis, have found an excellent mix of the smooth flows of traditional hip hop with some musical experimentations that come with having their own instruments. Their new Careless Talk EP is a simmering journey that is both dark and redemptive and showcases a highly talented band starting to hit their stride.

The EP starts off with “Every Now and Then,” which begins with a stewing hum and some plucked strings, while lead singer Eric Blair laments “Every now and then I get a little down on life.” The song keeps a low key musical approach while Blair, in a timbre that projects less a feeling of anger and more of a man teetering on the verge of giving up, goes through some of the challenges in his life. Even when he says “Fuck the revolution” you get the sense that it is less a call to give up more of a man succumbing to the battles he is struggling with every day. The next song, “Sunrise,” starts with Blair doing a spoken word piece before the band joins him. The stuttering drums by Khalil Brewington give the song a jazzy electronic feel, propelling it forward while Blair sings that “It’s getting late, and I haven’t had a drink yet.” After the dark clouds of the first two songs, both by the tenebrous lyrics and the of foreboding stylings of the band, Blair starts out the next song with some positive vibes. He begins “If I Had” with a verse that includes “You don’t need a math degree to count your blessings.” The instruments ring and echo and show the strengths of the band, especially guitarist Robert Mulrennan and bassist Edwin Scherer, both of whom also are in charge of the loops and effects that give the EP its shining dark underbelly. The fourth song is the record’s title track, and finds Blair back to his boiling flow, this time railing against peoples’ flight from comfortable situations. It includes one of the best lines on the disc, where he laments “You take little Billy, Susan and move to the other side of the tracks, with rainbows and Cadillacs, picking up your weed wacker, putting down your battle axe/Clipping out them coupons, throwing out your food stamps, people turn their backs on the mother fucking movement.” The music finds stabbing guitar lines mixing with low key drumming while Blair, in his smooth anguishes, lays out his view on the ills of society. The last song of the EP is “Paper Dolls,” a song that has gotten the band some play on local station the Current. The music behind the track is the most exuberant of the record, and finds guitars and keyboards glistening while various percussion instruments mesh with the pulsing bass lines. The lyrical content finds Blair, like he does at his best over the course of the album, mixing his dour outlook with a redemptive shot in the arm, even while his voice occasionally seems to imply that he may not believe in his own rhetoric that everything will be okay.

hyder-ali-promo-shot-by-jon-behm
(Hyder Ali by Jon Behm)

The EP is only 19 minutes long, but packs in some great music and dramatic lyrics that can leave the listener exhausted. Between the live, electronic feeling instrumentation and the existential outlook Blair projects, Careless Talk is a great journey though the paranoia and pain of living in troubled times. The band shows that hip hop isn’t resigned to being tired samples or store bought beats, and the band proved to be a impeccable canvass for Blair to level his rhymes on. Hyder Ali, who are also great live, have put themselves in a position to be among the next wave of great hip hop bands that Minneapolis has seemed akin to producing in the last decade. Hopefully their EP is just the first step and the band can continue to experiment with their sound and create records as engrossing and stirring as the EP in the future.

Purchase | MySpace

Also: Hyder Ali @ the Nomad World Pub


1 Comment

    This track I like much.
    I predict they’ll do well.

    This is very well-written,innit.
    Shows off why this is a must-read site.

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