Friday, September 4, 2015

Cassette Review: Emay x L-SPEX "S O R R Y" (HAVNrecords)

[$5 CAD // Edition of 50 //]

When "S O R R Y" begins there is a slight introduction of music.   You can tell it's an introduction the second listen through but on your first time around you might begin to believe it to be how the cassette is going to sound on the whole.   After these few notes come through someone says something to the effect that they will use that as the introduction.    I can't exactly think of everyone who might have ever done something like this, but one of the first albums that comes to mind is Say Anything "Is A Real Boy" only that's in reverse compared to this.    There is just something about someone speaking during recording- and not in between the songs either but right at the beginning like this- which sets the tone for the rest of the cassette.   It paints a raw picture which, for me, brings out a lot of honesty and surface value where what you see is what you get and I love that about music.

The music which follows comes in various tempos, rhythms and even melodies with a constant drum kit backing it (a studio style drum kit mind you, not a drum machine sound) and there are lyrics delivered over it in the manner of hip-hop/rap music.    What you'll notice when you listen to this cassette though, even on the first time around, is that the overall style of it just doesn't sound like anyone else.   It's not traditional hip-hop but I can hear pieces of A Tribe Called Quest and even Nas in it.   And it's not something so far out there as to remind me of B L A C K I E, even though the title of the cassette is also all caps no spaces.   It's just the idea of someone telling a story through verse which often times rhymes and it comes out in the same way which two different people might sing a song differently and give it their own take that this is just an unique voice applied to Emay x L-SPEX.

What comes as a surprise to me, and then a mistaken one at that, is that the second song mentions H-Town and then as I look over the linear notes (and Bandcamp page) I found out that it is actually called "H-Town".    This is where the difference between people living in different places comes into play.   I spent eight years living in Texas, in and near Houston, and so to me "H-Town" is always going to be Houston and there are many artists from and around Houston which I think Emay x L-SPEX would get along with nicely, from the B L A C K I E I mentioned earlier to Fat Tony, Zealz, Kyle Hubbard and iLL LiAD.    So it's funny because when I heard that all I could think of was Houston, Texas and how well these two artists (Emay makes the beats and L-SPEX spits the words) would fit in with the scene there and how much sense it made... Only to find out that they are in fact from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a different H-Town altogether.

From love to loss, from anger to sadness, the range of emotions on here varies from song to song and I do enjoy the fact that it is mixed up in this way because having an album that was completely full of one spectrum of the emotional chamber might seem overbearing.   In this sense, Emay x L-SPEX takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions which makes you feel right along with them during each song (And yes, that comes out both with the way the lyrics are delivered and the music which accompanies their delivery)   Going with the theme of the cassette there are songs called "Sorry, Not Sorry" and simply "Sorry" which touch upon the idea of forgiveness whether it be something that is needed or not.   For me on a personal level I can really relate to that idea of someone who goes around and constantly makes the same mistakes and simply apologizes for it rather than trying to correct that behavior and prevent it from happening in the future.

Title of the cassette aside (I could write a book about apologies), this cassette makes me think of Houston, Texas when that's not where it's from and, hey, maybe you'll hear it and think of a different H-Town as well.   On top of that both of these contributing artists offer their unique take on the world of hip-hop and deliver in just such a spectacular fashion.    If you told someone to sing like the Beatles they might not be able to perfectly emulate the vocals of, say, John Lennon and that's how I feel about this music-- where they're pulling from influences which might not be so obvious on the surface but they are accomplishing what so many other artists fail to do and that is create something both unique and beautful.

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