British-born Jamaican musician Tricky knows a thing or two about straddling cultural lines. On his latest album, Mixed Race, released in September of last year, the enigmatic trip-hoppian seeks to explore this knowledge through the medium he does best: music. Hitting the controversial music sharing site, Grooveshark, late last week, Tricky fans (and random Grooveshark users) were made privy to the artists’ effort.
With all but 3 of its 10 tracks clocking in at well under 3 minutes, Mixed Race is a conspicuously short LP. Nevertheless, the album manages to pack a bevy of samples in its brief but distinct duration:
- Kingston Logic/UK Jamaican borrows the staccato rhyming scheme of Daft Punk’s Technologic, adding its own funk-infused British hip hop flair that rings nothing like Busta Rhyme’s sample, Touch It.
- Rockabilly sensation Link Wray is given new life by Murder Weapon, a direct remake of dancehall reggae artist Echo Minott’s song of the same name. Not surprisingly, the track is impossible to ignore.
- Somewhat similarly, the repeated underlying tone to Really Real is remarkably reminiscent of former bandmates Massive Attack’s Angel - but that could be argued to be producer Bobby Gillespie‘s “fault.”
Throwaway songs like Come to Me remind us that Tricky’s talk-more-than-he-sings approach seems to work best when female vocals take center stage. With its inspiration undoubtedly rooted in the genre club-bunnies affectionately refer to simply as House, the aptly titled track, Time to Dance, beckons listeners to do just that. Described by Tricky as “the closest I’m ever gonna get to disco,” the lush female lead vocals are a necessary component to this song’s success – not that we don’t enjoy Tricky’s whispery directives underneath.
But Tricky needn’t rely solely on female singers to make good songs. Featuring the unique ramblings of an Algerian guitarist of the same name, Hakim is an especially haunting piece of music, with an instrumentation and sub-vocals towards its conclusion that somehow manage to tie it all together.
Ghetto Stars, an obvious riff on the perils of living a gangster lifestyle born of necessity, reads a bit like overly synthesized basement hip hop, but features an almost cinematic quality that ensures an enjoyable listen.
Overall, Mixed Race is a brief but dense offering. By virtue of the album’s unusually up-tempo options, the music remains accessible, even through its quiet darkness – kind of like Tricky.