Unkle Ho - Roads to Roma
Mon 9th May, 2005 Music Reviews 4292 viewsin
A founding member of the Herd, lover of abstract samples and world music instrumentation, Unkle Ho has brought forth an album of broken beats for his debut solo release.
The Herd are one of Australia’s finest hip hop groups, unashamedly political in their lyrics yet organic and live in their beats. They have garnered a massive fan base. As such Unkle Ho is in the enviable position of having people anticipating this release and fans will not be let down. Stripping back the layers this is a hip hop album bordering on being breaks, a chill out selection with so many clever samples and twangs you are forced to bob your head too, basically it is another feather in the Oz hip hop cap.
From the opening sitar (I believe) of the first single Grace of the Guru, it is clear this isn’t just another Herd release, as the simple drum beat kicks in and the cleverly sampled Indian vocal rides the beat you can’t help but bob your head in appreciation. The middle eastern and Arabic influences feature throughout but are most notable in the albums opening half, before returning latter on A Scottish Tale and Prayer.
Mixed in amongst these noises are stabs of dub, Jamaican dancehall, folk, indie guitar riffs and straight up hip hop guest verses and drum breaks. What could have so easily become a cluttered mess of sounds works like it was all born to intertwine.
Tracks that standout are Shoot From the Hip, Rock The Damn Kremlin, Diabolical Dual and Hanky Panky, as well as the previously mentioned cuts. Simplicity is the common factor in all of these, with a basic plodding drum beat well supported by samples and originality. From the first listen I was nervous that Unkle Ho had gone too minimal yet the simple arrangements are undeniably catchy and smooth enough to rock a dancefloor if you are DJ inclined.
Lyrics are limited to guest appearances, with Herd bandmate Urthboy as political as you would expect, quickening his flow to suit Shoot From The Hip. Recent addition to the Quannum label, Apsci, ride all over the soulful Rock The Damn Kremlin making sure many an Australian will check for future releases.
Don’t buy this album expecting another Herd release full of nice rhymes and up tempo hip hop beats. Do buy this album if you like your beats broken, your sounds layered and you are willing to appreciate something a little different from the norm.