Guilty Simpson is about as hardcore as I feel I want to go when it comes to MC’s, I know there are plenty out there filthier, more controversial and foul mouthed, but I’m not 18 any more and I’m not looking to be shocked by tales of violence, abuse & (sometimes) make believe gangster drug dealin’ tales. That isn’t to say that Guilty is particularly radio friendly, his Stones Throw debut album ‘Ode to the Ghetto’ lived up to its title with tales from the wrong side of the tracks sparing no detail about how tough that life can be.
Since then Guilty has teamed up again with Madlib – both on ‘OJ Simpson’ and Madlib’s first Medicine Show – featured on Percee P’s album and crucially offered a verse on the Quakers incredible album. Here he hooks up with Katalyst of the Q’s who has produced the entire ‘Detroit’s Son’ LP.
That is good news, whilst the Quakers album was packed with quality MC’s, it was the beats, breaks and hooks the MC’s rode that kept me going back for more. Katalyst has sprinkled that same magic production dust over this. From the turbo powered beats of the openers ‘R.I.P.’ and ‘Blunts In The Air’ you know this albums going to kick. There are old school references on ‘Fractured’ (featuring a decent contribution from Fat Roy) with its Run DMC ‘Kings’ sample, funky guitar licks and rolling groove. Again on ‘Money’ there’s a KRS One sample of the ‘Woop Woop’ from ‘Sound Of The Police – giving nods to the legends of the rap game, which is a nice touch.
Elsewhere you get the more sparse bass groove of ‘Radiation Burn’ with its synths giving a slightly cosmic feel before the track breaks down into horror film piano stabs over a killer down tempo break that just doesn’t last long enough. Guilty can also do tender-ish. ‘Smoking’ featuring Spacek is a love song, albiet about blunts rather than a romantic companion. Almost a summer jam, if it’s pro-skunk message wasn’t so off message it could have been a radio hit. It is a track in the spirit of ‘Today Was A Good Day’ by Ice Cube, its sunshine grooves and laidback lyrical flow just conjure up lazy afternoons in the haze of sunrays and a more illicit type of fug. It does however further demonstrate the variety on the album, offering a change of pace from the bangers.
Central to the album is of course ‘The D’, whilst this is about the Motor City, you could be forgiven that this could also be ‘Dilla’ – so central to Simpsons career and Stones Throw signing, you can forgive the repeated tributes. His position as Detroit’s favourite hip-hop son does mean that there is likely to be a blurring of the two when rappers reference them both. ‘The D’, ‘Detroit’s Son’ and ‘Blue Collar’ are all more overtly about Detroit, but the city does feature across the album, somewhat at odds with the fact it was produced in Australia.
Essentially, this is a very good album, if you like hip-hop then there is little that would stop you from digging this. Guilty is a strong, raw MC, his flow is unforgiving, perhaps lacking the subtlety of some, however when given the right platform this becomes a strength. Katalyst has provided this, the musical tapestry beneath Simpson’s flow is superb, as such whilst I am an avowed Madlib disciple, I have to say this is a stronger release than ‘Ode’. I doubt this will make any end of year lists, its possibly a bit niche and isn’t likely to appeal to the casual hip-hop listener, but for those with a love of the heavy, raw sound of hip-hop, this is a must.
You can pick up the album from Norman records here…
The Stones Throw website is also a great source of info on this label aa well as being a shop to get hold of their releases.
Make sure the artists get paid, buyvyoir music, don’t steal.