While most eyes are planted firmly on the South, thereâ€™s another hub thatâ€™s been slowly flanking, ready to take hip-hop by surprise. Fifteen years ago, Common first described the Chicago landscape on â€œCan I Borrow A Dollar?â€ Over the last while, other Chicago artists have mobilized, Kanye with his soul infused hip-pop, Rhymefest continuing in Commonâ€™s lyric heavy tradition. Now, itâ€™s The Molemenâ€™s turn. Panik, Memo, and PNS make up the Windy City production crew and their latest album, The Killing Fields will turn some heads.
Molemen drops a distinctive sound backboned by hypnotic keyboards. Is that a harpsichord I hear buried in track seven, â€œBlackhand Clapâ€? The team keeps their end of the pact, delivering layered and unique beats. The album is all syrupy, head bobbing, drive slow music, something thatâ€™s been missing from hip-hop and a welcome complement to all the hyper-infused southern production.
As with any album built around a single production team, there is the threat of monotony. But, The Mole Men enlisted a motley crew of rappers and thereâ€™s hardly a weak link. Thereâ€™s the aforementioned Rhymefest bringing his patented word play (â€œProven â€˜em Wrongâ€) and Del the Funky Homosapien kicking his alphabet flow (â€œScarlet Letterâ€). There are a couple of skips. For instance, â€œMy Alien Girlfriendâ€ about, yep, an alien girlfriend, was too hokey, but not hokey enough to pull it off (Staring at her space tits/ trying to hold my tongue back). But Kool G Rap and hokey have never been in the same sentence and he makes up for it with the raw â€œFull Metal Jacket.â€
Watch out, heads, Chicago soldiers have infiltrated hip hop. But as long as the music stays well produced and well written, their presence will be a welcome one.