Words About Music
Young Fathers “Dead”
I would like to kick this off by reminding you, the reader, that there are people that exist that think all modern rap songs are about the same things, often citing people like Lil Wayne or 2 Chainz or something. Let me remind you that not only is this statement just a gross stereotype, but it’s also not and never has been true. Even if you think all the stuff in the mainstream is the same (which it isn’t) then you cannot deny groups like Death Grips, dälek, Clipping, Shabazz Palaces, and Young Fathers, all of whom take hip hop to new heights both creatively and qualitatively.
Young Fathers is a Scottish hip-hop/R&B/lo-fi trio that fuse all kinds of crazy genres you’d never guess could possibly go together and, in doing so, have crafted some of the most beautifully catchy and endearing tracks I’ve heard in my entire life. They first captivated me with their first two EPs “Tape One” and “Tape Two,” the latter of which was one of my favorite releases of 2013. While those releases were a bit too short to fully satisfy my taste for the group, they showed a ton of promise with politically charged lyrics, Afrobeat and reggae rhythms, and soaring vocals. This promise continues on their highly anticipated (at least by me) debut full length album “Dead.”
On “Dead,” the group up the ante on both recording quality and catchy hooks with tracks like “No Way,” “War,” and “Get Up,” among nearly every track on this album. And that’s another thing I should praise on this album: the instrumentals. They’re dancey, tribal, bouncy, upbeat, and just weird overall. From the Daniel Johnston style organ-keyboard to the shoegaze bass and the repetitive drum phrases, this group really knows what they’re doing when combining beats and rhymes.
As the group’s music progresses it seems like they’re definitely leaning more into the vocal part of their music which was definitely evident on “Tape Two.” And that’s definitely not a bad thing; the three gentlemen in this group are amazingly talented singers. I would like to hear a bit more rapping since they’re really good at that too, but the singing definitely adds to the overall eerie and intense atmosphere of the music on “Dead.” If anything, the group sounds anything but dead on this album.
While some of the tracks on here aren’t as catchy as I’d hoped, there has not been a quality dip at all for this band. If anything, they’ve improved with their song writing and the way they write their music. “Dead” is probably the most serene thing the group has ever dropped and I eagerly anticipate anything they drop in the future. I wouldn’t call this album particularly happy, but it is fascinating and creative in ways that will surprise people who’ve never had the immense pleasure of listening to their music before.
SCORE – 8.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – No Way, Low, War, Get Up, Dip, Paying, Am I Not Your Boy, I’ve Arrived