Foreign Beggars - United Colors of Beggattron

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British hip hop and grime purveyors Foreign Beggars have really stretched themselves with their latest and third album The United Colours of Beggatron, delivering heavy b-lines to go with the rapid fire emcee delivery, spitting our lyrics with a fervent energy that’s infectious.

The title, and indeed all the blurbs, seem to imply that somehow this album has broken in to new genres; progressive, new, diverse. However, and to its credit, that’s not really true. It’s definitely different to their earlier works, but like them falls squarely in the hip hop sphere and that’s how it needs to be heard and judged.

It’s not all by the book, that’s for sure. Asylum Bound is dismal and desolate in tone, a depressing platform from which to deliver a comedic take on what it means to be mad: ”...calling this a madhouse but who’s really nuts, All I do is watch TV and chew nuts,” raps Metropolis before Orifice Vulgatron steps in to muse a bit more staccato from a nuts point of view.

Elsewhere Guilty Simpson pops up on Prove It which is as close as this album gets to Dre-like riff hip hop, using Guilty’s laid back rap style, which is sort of paid straight, as if a Detroit-London connection existed whereas it really just highlights the hilarious discrepancy between the US tuff-talk and the English equivalent, which always sounds a little silly.

Elsewhere Don’t Dhoow It slots in somewhere between garage and Missy Elliott, No Holds Barred is an homage to two stepping roughness in a short, violent burst of militancy and Keeping the Line Fat is a funky, disco infused R&Bish, electro-pop track featuring the vocal talents of Graziella.

My favourite track, however is No More and that’s mainly because it’s straight, down-the-line British rap, with enough of a tune to keep you interested but not enough to distract from what are some pretty funny lyrics. Produced by Noisia and with guest vocalists chipping in with tasty wit, it’s a good opportunity to listen to some really nasty images, all delivered with aplomb, Kashmere “tickling Medusa’s clit while she’s sucking my…”.

The only real issue I take with this album is that of the 19 tracks, only 11 make it past the three minute mark, making for sometimes bitty listening as musical asides, though sometimes interesting, break up any flow the album might have, and ultimately make you lose concentration. For all that, it’s a good effort, and will sit nicely on the shelf, a bit of rough and smooth together with lyrical excellence and an off-kilter agenda.

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sickbuoy said on the 21st Jan, 2010

nice review. keen to check this out. have heard a few tracks and i like what i've heard so far.