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Aural Fix: Young Fathers

Aural Fix: Young Fathers


The hip-hop world is undergoing another renaissance. Some would argue that it never really had a down period, if you take into consideration some of the underground jams coming out, but it’s fair to say that we’ve seen an influx in great talent. Young Fathers, the alternative hip-hop trio out of Edinburgh, Scotland, is a perfect example of the burgeoning explorative nature of today’s iteration of the genre.

The typical Young Fathers recipe is a combination of raw lyrical turns, synth-heavy tracking, and forward powering beats. The three MCs, Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham Hastings, are all equally capable of carrying a track, but the interplay between the voices, and the distinct musical influences brought by each, makes for a comprehensively eclectic and strong collection.

“LOW,” one of the standout tracks from the award-winning Dead (2014), is a visceral experience. It would be tempting to call the lyrical content “jaded,” but really it’s an introspective look at the internal struggle one feels when trying to find a balance between the desire to keep a bright outlook while being faced with all of the shitty things that confront us on a daily basis, both personally and from the outside world. The oscillating synth riff would be right at home on any present-day rock album, but here it is complemented by the chunky percussive sounds of hand drums and tinkling bells. Young Fathers have tapped into the power of dynamics, and the instrumentals explode with the sung hook, and drop back into an understated beat for the rapped verses. Really, it’s an apt encapsulation of the group’s ability to capture elements from almost any genre and repurpose them creatively and with the flair and confidence of musicians who know exactly what they want to do.

Young Fathers recently released “Shame,” a single from their new record White Men Are Black Too. Surprisingly, it features almost no rapping, but it works. The passion, versatility and intense focus that have been the hallmark of the group’s work to-date is ever present. And if that’s not enough, then I don’t know what is. »

– Charles Trowbridge

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Catch Young Fathers live in Portland April 29 at Holocene