Founded in 1998, Anticon has become one of the finest independent hip-hop labels, releasing music from Why?, Buck 65 and Serengeti, to name a few. Along with Serengeti’s “C.A.B.” (which I reviewed last week), I’ve been playing two other Anticon releases lately: a 2013 collaboration that I missed, and the first LP from Young Fathers, whose “Tape Two” EP was one of my favorite records of last year.
Knifefight: “Knifefight” (Anticon) Musically, this collaboration between rapper Beans and producer Mux Mool is fast, fun and addicting. Beans showcases looser lyricism than on past albums, and his flow completes these tracks. This is true particularly of “StrangeFresh,” the upbeat key track that would be top choice for a single if this were an album with singles, rather than a Bandcamp EP that wasn’t promoted at all. From the eerie piano that opens the record to the funk bassline that closes it, the two work off each other to create the finest thing either of them have put out. Kool A.D. even stops by for a verse. Grade: A
Young Fathers: “Dead” (Anticon) A sad case of a debut full-length that fails to live up to the EP that preceded it. Not that it’s too far off from the EP lengthwise – it’s only 33 minutes long, short enough that Skrillex would likely call it an EP. But they’re a group that works well with quick tracks, so that’s nothing to worry about. Instead, worry about the absence of the kinds of phenomenal hooks and melodies that made “Tape Two” as superb as it was. Here, only “Get Up” exhibits that level of tunefulness. Elsewhere, without that melodic push, they prove easier to admire than enjoy. Grade: B
Does anyone else notice how there are ZERO specifics ...