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Mental Combat 913

Author: Blaze
Monday, 16 June 2008
In recent years mainstream hip hop has become synonymous with lame shit. Total bollocks. Even the darlings of the underground scene such as Jurassic 5 have imploded through artistic differences resulting in Jurassic 0. Indy rock might have jumped out and bit dance music’s arse, but the electroclash sub-genre warped everything with a mash-up of genres and inspirations and became the de rigueur audio for any hipster party. Hip hop is no longer hip. The 80s referenced fashions and sounds became all too commonplace and bastardised by nearly every man and his hypercolour-wearing spandex dog. The edges were blurred and anyone with an iPod and hi-speed broadband became an instant DJ with a collection equated to the work of 20+ years of vinyl obsessives. The medium had changed and with it the appreciation. What do you prefer, the taste of instant coffee or freshly percolated crushed beans-  So what happens with the artists who are making music while all this technology is going great guns- Ride with the times or stay traditional- For some the direction of top selling ringtone rap is definitely out of bounds. So what to do- Well I guess if one is observant enough, take from what is currently happening and swing hard towards the uber groovy art gallery/inner city fashion attendants and don those day-glo gloves and pop an irony pill, ‘cause that seems to be where most of the action is these days.

So apparently a few crews like Giant Panda and Loop Troop Rockers have been paying attention and flipped their style to accommodate the now sound. But who is the latest to join this small but growing platoon- Well those lads Time Machine. Their new album Life Is Expensive (Shogun) is an example of that old hoary chestnut ‘hey if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’. They’ve seen the future and the future is fun. Party central down at the TM HQ and everyone is invited. They even went so far as to change their rap non-de plumes. Jaysonic is now Jet Set Jay, Comel has become Biscuit and Mekalek merges into Gramps. So methinks this is pretty much some repackaging for a new market. Now they are all set to ride the same club circuit as The Cool Kids and Spank Rock. So what’s my opinion- Well I certainly hear Mekalek having great fun hooking up all the up-tempo breaks that he’s been unable to use in previous efforts and amping up the beats in a style that was all the rage in the late 80s. I also sense that the MCs understand that re-invention can open up new lyrical directions. They used to be quite cryptic and indirect in their words, but now they flex deeper topics over beats that belie the most obvious tangents they could’ve gone for. As we all know there are a ziptillion In Da Club type tracks out there that hit the people over the head with the stupid bat in regards to a song’s topic. Time Machine don’t play that. The music not only reaches tempos that the stripper’s music doesn’t, but the lyrics also stay well clear of the mundane and are insightful panoramas on life in general. If life is fair then I reckon this album could tip them over the balance that is usually marked ‘strictly underground’ and see them straddle another audience that will appreciate their origins.  I must say I enjoyed the total spasmodic nature of this new sound and had great fun hearing the many ideas that were jumping out of the speakers. It might lack the clean synthesised sound of what usually passes muster in these new circles, but the idiosyncratic personalities of Jaysonic and Comel will hopefully push them forward, garner some new fans and might keep their old ones glued to the contagious vortex that the trio evoke. Check the cheap as chips video for The Groove That Just Won't Stop on YouTube. And nice to hear the now US located Maya Jupiter spit some tidy phrasing on (If You Know What) I Mean and veteran Greg Nice on The Unfortunate Twist.  You can also download a Quicktime of the nifty 50s styled animated clip for that last track at

It’s been a tragic last couple of weeks with the accidental death of MC/writer/producer Angel Luis Amado aka APEX and the senseless murder of DJ Eli Westlake aka 2Fold. May they both rest in peace.