Monday, February 13, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: The Middlemen - The Middleman

Artist: The Middlemen
Title: The Middleman

Current Mp3 Unsigned darlings The Middlemen are a hip hop duo from Birmingham (here in downtown UK) comprising of Acrosoma and F.Y.B.A Optyk. Although I haven't heard anything from the latter artist I have come across Acrosoma when I reviewed his collab with Disdain - Venom (September 2005). To be truthful, to my ears Acrosoma delivered the better rap; more cohesive and punchier than I expected and decidely with a UK bias. Nothing wrong with that I say. UK Hip Hop is getting to be a very lucrative field these days, especially online and MP3 Unsigned has a nice collection of home grown (to us brits anyway) talent.

Not sure who is doing what on this track, but whatever it is, both artists make a very affecting track; especially when you consider what they are doing musically. To be honest, I was so blown away by the musical content of this track that it took me a while to get past that and really listen to the rap. As the duo say on the blurb for this track 'this is the most radio-friendly track they have' and I echo that to the power of 10. The Middleman is a really terrific melding of the Midlands ska/reggae beats first created by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and (bless 'em) UB40. As if that wasn't enough, they then go and add the more modern edgier sounds of ragga to the mix and - for me - that is what singles this track out as being something real, real special. It isn't ALL good, the ending is kinda scrappy and a bit disorganised but that is a small and eminently fixable thing.

I am an absolute sucker for this music, have been since I was a kid myself. I think that is what first attracted me to a rag-tag collection of musicians called The Special AKA from Coventry when I first heard a white label of a track called Gangsters. I was intimately involved with 2-Tone back in the early eighties and have strong ties to the Coventry music scene and The Middlemen have tapped that source of great music with a vengence, and believe me I know what's what on this scene. What it shows to me is that The Middlemen are the real deal - in every single way. If they can create this feeling live, they will be red hot before the end of the year is out. The Middleman is also a great rap about living life in the Midlands of England with the catchiest chorus you are ever likely to hear. As soon as I heard this the first time, let alone when I almost blew my ears off by repeating it ad nauseum, I knew this track would be a keeper for me and maybe even a track of the year for 2006. I know it's a bit early to start talking about this but this is such a strong, capable track I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't a hit before much longer. It definitely bodes well for the upcoming All About Nothing album and I am going to hoover up the rest of their page too.

A Must Have (becos its fekkin' brilliant)

1 comment:

Al said...

I really liked the loops in this track and I think I would have enjoyed the raps better if they were more dominant in the mix. I could hear the difference in style between the two rappers, I just couldn't make out what they were saying (and no, it wasn't because of the accents ;).