If you are like me the prospect of Scottish rap might sound about as palatable as white-boy fusion reggae. Sweeping generalizations aside, these Scots have in fact come up with something worthwhile, and something that is uniquely theirs.
Their fusion of innovative rhythm and texture—with roots that can be traced to at least three continents—has led some to proclaim them something of a De La Soul for post-globalization. I think that comparison is a little forced, but I will grant that there are indeed three of them (like De La) and that the left-field hip-hop they make is quite satisfying.
Tape One was actually self-released back in 2012, before being given a proper release in January via Anticon. It doesn’t really sound like anything else on the Anticon roster, but that kind of makes it a perfect match for the weirdo hip-hop stalwart known for pushing the boundaries of what can rightly be associated with the genre.
Thematically, Tape One could be described as something like pan-Africanism, infused with a healthy dose of dystopic British paranoia.
Weird droney noises and snippets of synthetic ambiance snake in and out of spiraling poly-rhythms. The verses, which are half rapped and half sung, are broken up by call-and-response refrains and tribal-ish sounding chants. There’s even a straight reggae track in there (possibly just to throw the listener off).
The experience as a whole is a little like what I’d imagine the ‘80s might have sounded like if dub, hip-hop and British post-punk had been smashed together instead of separated by oceans.