HUNDRED GRAND BRAND
We Kinda Nice - EP
* * * 1/2
In the play/film Six Degrees of Separation, a wealthy New York couple is deceived by a mysterious con man named Paul, an ex-street kid who makes his way into their house by pretending to be an impeccably mannered upper-crust college kid, the son of a movie star, and a friend of the couple’s kids from Harvard. The couple grows to like him so much they continue to have a relationship with him after the con has been unveiled. Well... this is Paul’s album. Hundred Grand Brand’s minimal crunk&B has its origins on the streets, sure, but the group’s artsy image and random classical samples give the whole affair a facade that suggests an intelligence far beyond what is actually displayed in the music. And, of course, the whole thing’s unapologetically and lovably phony. These are two suburban kids making hip hop, and they use this predicament to their advantage.
This could be their way of justifying their output, but to be honest, their output isn’t that terrible. A number of guest appearances add spice to the album--the machine-gun rhymes of Izzard the Wizard, space rocker Dakota Lillie’s art-house beat on “Hello, My Name Is...,” and a guest keytar lick from Wenzel’s Ratherbright collaborator Brendy Hale on the muddy indie-pop/rap fusion “Stay Gold.” But the core duo stand well on their own--the musician half of the group, James Wenzel of Ratherbright, has considerable skill with analog beats, and the rapper half, the lovably ironic TNAK, is actually pretty damn good. This is not an album for hip-hop fans or indie hipster types--in fact, this is music with no discernable target audience--but it’s a witty, entertaining, and often flat-out funny listen.
“Turn It Up Loud (V1)”
* * * 1/2
“Is this the counsellor’s office?”
“Yes. Please sit down.
“I’m very concerned about Dakota. He used to be such a sweet little boy! Now he’s turned into a sex god!”
“A sex god?”
“Yes! He used to make this really nice pop music about existentialism, and now all of a sudden he’s singing about ‘sex appeal!’ He even has a hot-girl spoken word section and a guitar solo just like the one in ‘Little Red Corvette!’”
“‘Little Red Corvette?’ That’s serious. I’m afraid Dakota has a case of what’s known as ‘hot guy fever.’”
“Is it curable?”
“No,there is no cure for hot guy fever. And frankly ma’am, even if there were a cure, I wouldn’t give it to him.”