Ever since hip-hop took off in the UK, I had always wondered if our artists would be able to live up to the high expectations of our transatlantic counterparts.
But over the last decade, English hip hop has begun to shine and evolve into its own state of being, while the yanks have all but lost what made them so brilliant with the glamour and bling going to their heads.
Thank goodness we still have our own. Sound of Rum are a thee piece band consisting of one drummer, guitarist and rapper who have just released their debut album Balance.
With a high use of pre-planned samples, Sound of Rum delivers a fusion of jazz and hip hop. Through rapper and poet Katie Tempest, the band has that ingredient that makes them stand out from all the rest.
Female rappers are rare to come by in the industry, especially talented ones anyway, and Tempest has that in abundance.
With a Hackney twang to her voice, the drummer and guitarist mostly play jazz funk that doesn't really accommodate her style to her best ability. However, it seems to work.
Rapping with wit and intelligence and lyrically playing homage to Shakespeare and Greek mythology, Tempest rhymes at 100mph in the most rawest of fashions.
Like any decent lyricist, the Londoner is able to narrate a story whilst spitting with a polysyllabic vocabulary. Although, as Plan B did so many times in his debut album, she raps faster than the beat and at times seems to rush to fit the lyrics into the song. A negative feat to me, but look where Plan B is now.
'Edwouldbe' is an interesting story stereotyping the laziness of human nature, and the idiots who blame the government and society for the mess of their lives. She states;
"he's on the sniff, on the pills on the MDMA/police visit him every night just to send him away /But he's got no prospects, no skills no talent/He's got no motivation, he's just losing his balance /Every night he's fucked, every morning he's embarrassed/Every day it's the skunk, weed ses or chalice.."
It is this ability to narrate and create imagery insides ones head that makes her stand out.
The poet is obviously talented although the jazz and hip hop fusion can get repetitive at times, especially as Tempest is easily the stand out talent from the group.
The album is split by a three minute interlude that consists of her rapping over a sample, which highlights the importance of her role.
'Icarus' though is one track that brings the threesome together in one song. A laid back relaxed jazz hit that breaks the beat up with a sweet guitar rift, whilst Tempest does her thing. A top smoking tune that easily allows you to lose yourself in the music.
'Breakthrough' and 'Prometheus' contrast to the rest of Balance. These two tracks are more metal than anything else, as the band attempt to step it up and get heavy using the hackney accent to their advantage. The tracks are not poor, but 'Prometheus' does sound as though they are trying to mimic Zack De la Rocha and the rage that brought his band their notoriety.
As debut albums go, it's an impressive LP from Sound of Rum, and I'll drink to that.