With ears opened wide enough one might have heard of YOUNG FATHERS two years ago already. As a matter of fact it is hard to believe one could ever escape them, for their debut EP actually is hauntingly good. They had already released Tape One back in 2011. Lucky for all those who missed them in the dark cyber-floods of subcultural music Anticon payed attention and reissued this noteable debut this very week. The Edinburgh-based Trio really fits the Anticon-family anyway, because YOUNG FATHERS do well, what Anticon somehow got to be a synonym for: Giving a new and innovative shell to what is hip hop at the very heart. Even though for YOUNG FATHERS it may be true the other way around, as they admit their love for tunes and have called themselves “just pop boys” in the past. Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham “G” Hastings have been sharing their ideas since their early teen years. All three of them are vocalists and have a multinational background with roots in Liberia and Nigeria.
It seems hard and unneccessary to categorize Tape One in terms of genres, because it is a colourful sample-puzzle that knows all kinds of shades, a set of eight short and compact songs that are yet matching but each of its own kind. Crunchy, noisy synths covering up the detailed layers of melodies underneath, structured by lo-fi-drumbeats, thats characteristic though. So is the mood, that walks a very thin line between melancholy and coolness, sometimes also juggling humorous elements or serious talk. The same thing is true for the lyrics, which are narrative in their very own way. Without much effort YOUNG FATHERS illustrate vague scenes you’ll be easily drawn into, no matter whether what they are. The language is straight, never mincing matters but also never cheap or senselessly provocative. The three voices are a perfect match, all three of them being different to a certain degree but all dry, natural and never hectically. The accent, that stands out now and then is more than charming. Rap should have that all the time.
Deadline opens the EP with a great repetitively sung tune, pounding beats and buzzing bass-synths that finally results in one of those haunting hooks, that has TV-On-The-Radio-qualities: “Don’t you turn my home against me / Even if my house is empty”. With this melody you really want the song to explode, because it has all that energy, but the song is reduces, quickly cut down until the hook stands alone and the song ends. It never lets you go after that, gets stuck in your inner ear for a long time and the unreleased energy may echoe in an indefinite feeling for a long time. It leads into a sweet track called Sister, in which rap is more presend but the melodies no less catchy. Remains seems humorous even on the music-level: “I wish somebody want me” repeats a sampled voice in the back – in any R’n’B-Song it would be one of these typical lines some girl purrs, but here it is a male voice. Also, coolness doesn’t forbid the feeling of sensitivity. Rumbling overall seems like a nice a nice oldschool-hip hop-song and the unhasty track Romance brings reggea and cheesyness to the mind all at once – astonishingly together both works. Fortunes is this intense rythmic 50-seconds-manifesto, in which dystopic lines like “You might not be interested in war / but war is interested in you” strike you. “Rrramada” is funny, really ironic and full of sexy scenes, slightly disharmonic and full of nice rhythmic shifts and suspenseful harmonic developements. The buzzing bass synth here remind you of the sweet Lofi-Street-Sound of a nice old Ghetto-Blaster.
Yes, YOUNG FATHERS seem cynical but cheerful. Yes, these people know how to deal with melodies, seem to have something to say and should be listened to. And yes, Tape One is too short. Hit repeat.