Lotek HiFi
Lotek HiFi

By Masta G

Lotek Hifi's mini album proves the range of Big Dada's roster in the wake of Ty's latest outing (see album review) and sees producer Wayne Bennett fulfil the promise shown in his contributions to Roots Manuva's two hugely successful LPs. Like Blue Lines era Massive Attack, you can hear the Lotek Hifi crew filtering different traditions of black music through the lens of urban Britain to produce something which is, they assert, 'inna different style'. While Bennett does bring a hip hop sensibility to bear on his production, it is the pervasive influence of reggae and dancehall, in the lyrics, beats and dubby effects, which holds together this assured debut. The three MCs successfully combine Wayne Paul's slick street soul singing with the ragga stylings of Earl J (Jack Radics' son) and the booming, bass heavy patter of erstwhile jungle MC Aurelius.

Opening track Voodoo Boogaloo refers to a 'duppy dance disco' and much of the album does have a vaguely hypnotic air – like the soundtrack to some some weird but compelling ritual. While this effect threatens to become slightly monotonous on the second side of the LP, there's enough diversity overall to maintain the ghostly fascination. The heavy skanking beat and hypnotic lyrical flows of Lofi Rocka bring to mind some of Rodney Manuva's finer moments on Run Come Save Me, while, with its menacing creeping bass and haunting piano hook, Inner Storm seems, more than most of the tracks, to reference the Bristol sound of Tricky and Massive Attack. There's A Storm In My Conscience might be one of the tricky kid's paranoid mutterings. While most of the tracks incline more to the head-nodding-in-smoky-rooms side of things and made me think of downbeat hip hop artists like Lewis Parker, Percolator and Hey Yeah Yeah have an infectious bashment vibe which is more directed towards the dancefloor. The superb Ram Dancehall is sadly not included here, but perhaps it'll turn up on the more extended lp due next year.

The name Lotek Hifi self-consciously suggests a laid-back, leftfield take on things, but this album should appeal to people from right across the spectrum of urban music. This is UK hip hop with the welcome influence of a heavy UK reggae vibe which is too often (for my taste anyway) absent from the work of British hip hop producers and MCs.
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