Deeper Than the Surface – Papiwthawork (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It is nice to know that in this world were a lot of rap and hip-hop has been dumbed down to mumbling bedroom wannabes talking in street tough cliches over the same off the shelf meandering beats that, occasionally you can still stumble across something which, in part at least, reminds you of the golden age.  Deeper…swaggers like an old school hip-hop classic but is nothing if not forward looking, talking in the language of today and adding a real street edge and dark anticipation through the choice and flow of words.  It is sharp, punchy and for a change revels in its own lyricism, something which seems to have ironically been lost from the genres which arose from a cappella street poetry where the word was king.

Opening salvo Cham-Pain lays out the musical manifesto with the word play evident in the title, but there is more to poetry than punning, much more to being smart than just being clever, if you know what I mean and the track heads us off down a certain musical pathway. It is one forged of street wise lyrics and narratives drawn from experience. One driven by trippy beats and occasional skittering trap percussion. A sound that walks with a certain swagger and has the confidence and skills to back it up.

Drip Like This is bombastic and to the point, Wrong Time moves things into darker territories and Game Changed offers the most minimal of beats, instead relying on the lyrical flow to drive the song forward. Critics might point out that, apart from the last song I mentioned, that the beats are pretty similar, supporters will respond that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and the grooves do work so I’ll let someone else fight that battle and instead I’ll just what is on the record rather than what could have been on the record.

And whilst it is easy to see where it comes from, it is the fusing of those ideas, of hip-hop grooves, rap narrative, trip-hop non-conformity, electronica fingerprints and more into a new form, a hard edged, staccato delivery and a futuristic vibe…glitch-hop perhaps…that shows which direction Papiwthawork is heading in. Reference the past but build a future and that is something that is evident in Deeper…. As a famous man once said, the future is unwritten, so why not try to leave your own signature on that empty page.

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