Friday, August 5, 2011

Album Review: Cocaine 80s - The Pursuit [EP]

Well, it's Friday again and nothing says "oh God, please let it be the weekend, sweet Jesus yes!" like some some first rate hip-hop, amirite?

About a month ago I was perusing the interwebs when I stumbled on a brief article from The Ministry of Hip that mentioned something about Common and No I.D. back together making music before moving on to something about the Kaiser Chiefs (really?). This floored me because these two guys are collectively responsible for much of the great hip-hop that has come out of Chicago in the past two decades. Both formative influences on everyone's favorite genius/douche/punching bag Kanye West, in their own way each helped create Chicago's distinctive soul-sampling, conscious hip-hop sound since used by MCs such as Lupe Fiasco & Rhymefest.

The new project is the No I.D.-helmed, Cocaine 80s. They're first release is The Pursuit [EP] and it's twenty-one minutes of groovy escapism. It'd proabably fairer to call this hip-hop-inflected soul than vice-versa and that is by no means a bad thing. It turns out that Common only appears on one track, "Summer Madness" and it's just what you'd expect from Common (well, pre-UMC Common, at least), meditative, passionate rhyming, Chicago shout-outs and dusty soul production. Normally this would be the highlight of the album, but it turns out that No I.D.'s got a few more tricks up his sleeve. 

"Not No More" is gorgeous breakup song anchored on an acoustic guitar, of all things which features one of the best opening lines of the year "Once upon and in another time...". "Nothing" is straight-up Hammond soul and closing track "Anywhere But Here" starts out but ends up once again in R&Bish/soul territory. "Get You Some" is a harmless but well-executed dance track which stands out amidst the thoughtful, revivalist production seen elsewhere.

The Pursuit [EP] doesn't have the drive or focus of a full-length debut album and is all the stronger for it. This is the sound of a group of guys making music they wanna hear just for the love of doing it. Given that they're giving it away, it's pretty hard to complain. Manna like isn't always so free-flowing so grab it while you can.

You can download the whole EP for a song (...err tweet).

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