Hip-hop is worldwide – and sometimes it’s easy to get pigeonholed by a local mentality when it comes to the genre. Hip-hop is bigger than the US and Canadian markets, which we are understandably serviced on a regular basis. Specifically, the UK hip-hop market is a sea of creativity and originality. The core of its influence is interesting, as it has elements of golden era legends across two continents, so the subject matter and overall vibe tends to vary vastly. I’ve been thinking of expanding our unsigned hype for a while, but have been (admittedly) intimidated, as I had an entire lifeline of hip-hop to catch up on. Fortunately, a very dope project landed on my desk, so it was as good a time as any to focus on some dope audio candy from London-town. Meet Four4s, the duo of childhood bredrens, Abstrax and Timi RS. They have bars, a very cool underground vibe, and a great new batch of tunes.
Their new LP, 4th Kind, is 17 joints long, with no filler/interludes – just bars. They list their influences as Wu-Tang, KRS ONE, Big pun, Nas, Big L, which is actually quite evident as I listened to this album. As much as this project is a melting pot of sounds and styles, it’s all hip-hop – and benefits from the cohesive sound and feel orchestrated entirely by Abstrax. I’m a huge fan of projects with a single producer. When asked to describe their sound, the duo offered the following: “It’s anger, passion, and fun mixed with a touch of sadness at times.” They further describe that their tone/subject matter stems from their views of the current industry on a whole. “There’s a lot of negativity amongst the youth of today’s world… And artists are taught to become characters molded by the media. Losing our own independent minds, we’ve become a man made generation.” This project seems devoid of much commercial influence, but is rather a gritty ride-along with two English kids trying to live their dreams in a world where creative minds are often set-up to fail.
This thought process is all over this project. They tackle everything from the consequences of negative decisions, street life, overcoming adversity, crew love, loss, happiness, stage fright – and overall just some real-life shit. It’s refreshing as hell, in all honesty. The vibe is quite cinematic, with lots of sonic experimentation, ambient sounds and breakdowns. There are a few stand-outs [note: these are just the writer’s fave joints] for me: The album opener I’m Home, Yeah To The Bullshit, which illustrates how the duo deals with, well, bullshit, the retrospective Time In My Life featuring talented singer Tenesan and lastly the slamming So Strong (currently on repeat here at the office).
4th Kind is the second release from the duo, and I was so impressed by this one, that I’m going to explore their back catalogue a bit more. The project is definitely worth a cover to cover spin – or maybe even two.