When you think of Philly, what comes to mind?
Philly cream cheese (sigh, not even close)
Philly Flyers (hahaha---nah Go Sens Go)
Philly steak (nah but you're getting closer)
Philly Moves (now you're talking). Iller than the cancer ward, comes a hip-hop group with a future so bright their CD should come equipped with sunglasses. Representing Ottawa (What? Dull ol' white-bread Ottawa has a hip-hop scene? Yep!) and fighting out of Toronto, this two-man group has made giant strides in just a few years.
The group is made up of MC Tragic (Tynan Phelan) and producer / hypeman Rockwell (Jon Desilva) (DJ So Nice mans the turntable for live shows) has not been waiting for the world to come to them since forming in or about 2009. After a couple of EPs, some mix-tapes and a full-length over the last few years, the pair have sharpened their considerable skills looking to produce a sizzling new record that stands tall over their previous work --- and they appear to have succeeded.
How to Drink Yourself Famous has 12 cuts of first-class songs, punctuated with a healthy dose of humor including the final cut which is a skit within a song --- with a nasty (fictional) ending. If you had to assign an astrology sign to the boys, it would have to be Libra. The band exists perfectly as a one-two punch. Rockwell lays down hooks that drag your ears close to the speakers while simultaneously setting off an ass/foot-shaking combo that is irresistible to the afore-mentioned body parts. He is complemented by Tragic's seemingly personal yet universal lyrics.
Although all the songs are good, the record is top-loaded with the first five cuts hauling a lot of the weight. It opens with Oh, You Bad! The lyrics go, "and we mastered the craft, this is classic old school. I ain't rap like most do, got that signature sound." The bouncy beat ushers you into the record and true to the lyrics, echo vintage sounds from another era while Rockwell weaves in scratching and subtle keys that fill the space without overdoing it.
"I'm Tired", in my opinion, is the star of the record. An irresistible Rockwell piano hook powers a song that is Philly Moves' step into maturity, separating them from their earlier material. Tragic spits, "My people stand up, say you sick of being stood on --- raise your hands if you wit me and you pissed off" and you can envision a show crowd responding in spades.
Celebrating their chosen hip-hop path and rockin' a mic is the thought process behind "Do Wrong", which is again brought with ease to your ears courtesy of an instrumental track that is like a tractor beam for the sweet spot. "Ya spittin is my business and see business is bomb, in this to win this, I concluded I could do no wrong. --- No matter if I'm feelin' weak or strong, I could never ever, ever ...do wrong." At least on this record, I'm beginning to think Tragic is right.
An old-school sounding sample is the skeleton for "Just Think", a really beautiful song with Tragic looking within for some self-affirmation that he's on the right track and discovering his path is basically out of his control, "Would my life be better with a fat wallet? nawww I'ma rap-aholic, happiest whens tracks is callin'."
"Dear Hip-Hop" is the other stellar song from the mighty front five. More of a message piece than almost any other song by the group, the lyrics are challenged for superiority by an infectious track led by some cool scratching and a killer chorus.
With a few left turns, the back half of the record takes a bit of a departure from what we've grown accustomed. "Clichι" and "So Simple" get a bit more, shall we say, mature lyrically proving that despite the smiles and approachable demeanor, Philly Moves ain't for the Bieber set. My fav line from "So Simple" goes "I pollute this booty till David Suzuki is scared."
Demonstrating his considerable multi-instrumental talent, Rockwell makes you stop in your tracks for the acoustic guitar and ace vocals (dulcet tones also provided by semi-regular Philly Moves guest Kaylie Seaver) that make "It's Too Cold For a T-shirt" a standout.
One of the catchiest songs on the record is "Get Your Free-On" with another irresistible chorus. Tragic weighs in about being true to oneself, "Well with no struggle and no pain would you really be living? Appreciate the hardships, live free and be forgiven. Live free and see with free vision, no grief given. Look past the past and see paths the least ridden."
A major wha? moment occurs with the down and dirty blues of "Little Brother", although it's a pleasant wha?. Tragic gets in line with the time-honored tradition of examining one's sorry state cuz, of course, it's blues. "I'm broke little brother, got no cents to my name. I ain't never getting paid, when my record is played. It ain't a joke little brother, trust Tragic is strapped. I stay strapped for cash, knapsack on my back." I think it's Rockwell on one of the verses and if it is, the guy continues to amaze for his versatility.
The record ends off with one of those song/skits that hip-hop dudes do so well. Think Ruff Ryders ΰ la The Lox and you'll have it. Though the last contribution from the group is fiction, this sentiment is surely not; Philly Moves are the real deal and just beginning to realize their considerable potential. As Tragic becomes even more comfortable behind the mic and varies his flows, his words will strike even harder. And several tracks on this record show what kind of budding talent from Rockwell lurks behind the studio boards.
Look for this band to dominate Canadian hip-hop for years to come!
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