Anglophilia here in the States usually – and annoyingly – takes the form of obsession with the royal family. Prince William washed his hair today, OMFG! Tell me more! Seriously, I don’t get the attraction, but then again there are a lot of things I don’t quite get, including the newfound Anglophilia among the tres monos of North Texas rap group PPT.
I like what little I’ve heard of Denglish, the band’s forthcoming album and follow-up to 2006’s awesome debut, Tres Monos in Love. The beats and melodies are groovy and mostly snappy, and the washes of bubbly, twinkling keys – like the kind heard in old, awesome A Tribe Called Quest tracks – create melancholy, urban nightscapes, perfect canvases for explorations into street-mythology: the sights and sounds of the quieting city, the lights and moochers, the long rides home and fleeting romances.
Why Picnic, Pikhasso, and Tahiti chose to bust a lotta rhymes in a hilariously unstudied British accent kind of stumps me, though. Now, I’m all for doing stuff because it’s fun – not everything has to make sense. But I do think that music and lyrics are better when they work together. There’s a reason why you may never hear a Sinatra-style crooner singing about taking a chainsaw to someone’s throat or a gospel choir covering 2 Live (“mutha-fucking!”) Crew songs. (If you know of any, though, please – please – tell me.)
The oddly juxtaposed music and lyrics end up fighting rather than complementing each other. I will not go as far as to say that Denglish summons the above examples, because I haven’t even heard the entire album and, more importantly, because I really dig what little I’ve come across. Not only do the guys rap in a British accent, but they also drop references to British things and manners of speech. On one tune, one of the rappers says, “We can watch Mr. Bean and DOC / Videos,” referring to the popular British physical comedian and old-school gangsta rapper The “diggy-diggy” DOC. In another, a PPT’er says, “I fancy you,” and in another, there is a chorus of backing bah-b’bah-bah-bah-ing, conjuring to mind The Zombies, Herman’s Hermits, and other swingin’ ’60s Brit-pop bands. But, as potentially intoxicating as Denglish seems, I can’t help but fear that it might present some missed opportunities for greatness.
Though the trio’s obvious lodestar is Outkast, I hope Denglish will have room for quieter, more contemplative and Tribe Called Quest-y, less jocular moments. If Outkast can find a little time for ’em, so can PPT. For more, visit www.myspace.com/PPT3. … Another new record coming out that may not be as anticipated as PPT’s new one but will still be killer is from Top Secret … Shhh, the local experimental down-tempo project whose eponymous debut album (2006) was pieced together from anonymous tracks recorded by area musicians and produced by local musician and impresario Marcus Lawyer (of The Initials and The Alarm Clocks, formerly of Pablo and the Hemphill 7).
Some of the contributors also get together and riff on some of the recorded material on stages around North Texas under the Top Secret … Shhh name. For the collective’s new album, players from all over the globe were solicited to lend tracks. Expect something soon. For more, visit www.myspace.com/topsecretshhh.
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