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Looking for a Rap/Hip-Hop perspective? Here it is:
on March 1, 2005
This review is strictly based from a Rap/Hip-Hop perspective and what a fan from that area of music could expect. So, if that doesn't apply to you then don't, worry about it cause from a rock perspective this probably can be considered creative genius and I have no problems admitting that.
If you come from hip-hop, you're probably looking for the impact of Dan The Automator's production/influence and Del The Funky Homosapien. The good news is that Dan's imprint is all over this thing. If you are familiar with his stuff, you'll know that while many hip-hop elements are there, the production sounds far from typical.
The bad news is that appearances from Del (and any other actually rapping) are few. In fact he's only on two tracks (ironically two of the bigger singles from the album, making you wonder why they didn't do this more). I'm sure everyone's heard and developed their opinions on "Clint Eastwood", so there's no need for to really say much about it. "Rock The House" is a great track, the horns provide a catchy sample, the pianos provide another great layer during the chorus and the subtle production lays out a nice laid-back groove. Del, fits the track perfectly, flowing seamlessly and at others matching the beat to the precision. Any underground hip-hop fan will be pleased with the way this turned out (and to be honest, probably wishes it was on Deltron3030 instead). Apart from these two tracks, the album is more a fusion between hip-hop production elements or just straight up rock/pop.
The production combines nicely with Albarn and rock elements on tracks like "Tomorrow Comes Today" which has a hard thumping beat. "New Genius" follows nicely and is more on the eerie side with the high-pitched harmonica. The scratching in the middle of the track is a solid touch as well. If you can get past the Spanish wailing in "Latin Simone" you'll prolly enjoy it.
At times on this album, Dan gets to shine a lot of his talent alone. "Double Bass" allows The Automator to get creative with all sorts of different instruments, that fans have grown accustom to. He does the same with "Left Hand Suzuki Method" using some sick bass and what sounds like a high school orchestra.
Both "Starshine" & "Sound Check" at times sound like mediocre DJ Shadow tracks (not necessarily a bad thing though).
"Re-Hash", "5/4", "Man Research", "Punk", "19-2000", "M1 A1", and "Dracula" all stay pretty far from the hip-hop side, at times being completely rock tracks. It's pretty hard from my perspective to enjoy these songs, but I do not doubt that many rock/pop fans will. "Slow Country" is just on some complete different level entirely. (I failed to mention the Remix tracks at the end, because they are completely `pop'ed out for commercial play).
Basic Break down: 2 songs with raps, 4 Hip-Hop sampling instrumentals, 3 solid hip-hop/rock fusions, 8 not so hip-hop tracks, 2 straight up pop remixes.
Gorillaz does an excellent job of getting experimental and gets more creative props than Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park or whoever else. It's safe to say that people who like rock music will defiantly enjoy this more than a hip-hop fan. If you're coming from that hip-hop/rap perspective, this group certainly has potential and it's worth listening to. I wouldn't recommend buying it expecting that even 1/3 of the album is geared towards you. So from that side, the album is merely OK. If you can open your mind up or come from a different style of music, this album could definitely end up being a lot better for you.