Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh No - Dr. No's Oxperimentals, Go Team! - Proof of Youth

Oh No - Dr. No's Oxperimentals
Released July 31st 2007
Label : Stones Throw

by Dan Stalker

So whether you believe talent is something that is in the genes or not, Oh No (Michael Jackson) does his best to prove that idea. He is the son of Singer/Songwriter Otis Jackson, nephew of Jazz musician Jon Fadds, and brother of hip-hop producer Madlib. Talent runs in this guys family.

Dr. No's Oxperimentals is "an audio tour of Turkish, Lebanese, Greek and Italian psyche funk". It has been a long time thing for hip-hop producers, and others as well, to use world sounds to construct new beats. Oh No takes it to new level composing all the music on this album using samples pulled from the musical cultures stated above. Rather than taking a sound and just throwing in a little bit of funk to it. He takes these musical cultures and exposes all the funk they have to offer, and he does it well.

Rather than overexposing you to a single beat for extended periods of time and running the risk of anything being to repetitive he keeps all track times below two minutes. He brings the samples together quickly and refrains from boring you with a track that feels like it should be accompanied by vocals. He is producing a beat that would fit a rhyme, but without a rhyme why give you a four minute track that has a standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse pattern. He hits you with a verse, chorus, verse and gets to stepping while it's still hot.

When I first heard about this album I couldn't help but think Oh No is taking a page from his brother's book with this running nearby the release of Madlib's India Vol. 3 & 4, which has a heavy world beat influence. But after hearing both albums you can see how these brothers are very different. Madlib tends to have a little more of a rundown beat with a vibe that feels almost dirty bordering on basement grimey. Oh No tends to keep things a little more on the high point and constantly moving. They both do what they do well and Dr. No's Oxperimentals is a treat for the ears.

This is the first direct project I have heard from Oh No and won't be the last. He has intrigued me to pick up "Exodus", his prequel to Dr. No. Where Dr. No is an instrumental album, Exodus is his beats with guest rappers. I give Dr. No's Oxperimentals a big ol' thumbs up. When an album can blend so many sounds seamlessly to the point you almost can't tell what the sounds are because they practically become there very own sound, I think that is something that needs a listen. You can listen to this while walking to work, it's always giving you a new sound. You can chill out and listen to it while doing some homework or cleaning the room, because it has a mellow background. It really is an album that deserves attention and should be recognized.

4/5 stars


The Go! Team - Proof of Youth (2007)

I first heard The Go! Team in late 2004 when I was living in my crappy basement apartment with my old roommate Alden. The music actually fit really well with the experiences I had in that apartment. A little weird, very random, and always fun. The music hits you in a weird way much like an Irish immigrant being hit with a bag of potatoes. The music comes out of the gates at full force and never seems to let up. There is so much going on that you don't really know where to start and after a while you just except that it's badass and stop worrying about it. You just let the music kind of take you over and enjoy it. There are trumpets, saxophones, harmonicas, two drums, keyboards, a crazy british female rapper, and synths abound. It is one of the most intense listening experiences ever.

Thunder, Lighting, Strike was great because it introduced you to an interesting sound that was a lot to take in at a single time. It is filled with more instrumentals and hits you with a little bit of that 70's super heroe theme music that there just isn't enough of. It makes you feel young again. Proof of Youth does a very similar thing. It still has the same amazing harmonies and compilation of instruments and sounds that made the first album amazing but this time they throw in more vocals a little more funk, and rarely lets up with a slower more melodic song. They seem to be driving at full speed and there's a beer bottle under the brake pedal.

I think the thing outside of the outrageous music stylings that grabs the listener are the vocals. The lead singer is an amazing female rapper from the UK but she is just the beginning. What really sends The Go! Team into a whole new realm is the hooks and chants that are spread out through out the album. They remind me of double dutch chants that you well sing at recess. it sounds like there are 8 people singing these chants and just runs with the music perfectly. I couldn't imagine what the production time was for an album like this, and all the planning that had to be involved. But they do it perfectly. There is very vocally little that could rise to the level of the music, but they manage.

I think Thunder, Lighting, Strike was a great album but Proof of Youth comes with a little more authority and forces you to listen and enjoy. I challenge you to listen to this album on not just enjoy yourself. It just has so much to offer and you want to soak up every last bit and leave nothing to be lost. You will listen to the album front to back, push play again, and throw it on repeat. Great album, it's a must have.

One last piece. If you are not already familiar with The Go! Team, I would recommend listening to Proof of Youth first, then taking a step back to Thunder, Lightning, Strike.

4.5/5 STARS

Highlighted Tracks

-Grip Like a Vice
-Doing it Right
-Titanic Vandalism
-Keys to the City
-Flashlight Fight (feat. Chuck D.)