The Hippy Mafia: 21st Century Commonwealth Soul – album review
The Hippy Mafia – 21st Century Commonwealth Soul (Red Disc Records)
CD / DL
24 June 2013
Last featured and interviewed back in the winter of 2011 Louder Than War return to check out The Hippy Mafia’s new album, 21st Century Commonwealth Soul. The group who’s made up of Mike Danger, Ooblo, Happy Monday Gary Whelan, Fitz, MC Dinja and Johnny Castro bring influences together from Brooklyn to Manchester for a ‘fire’ release.
… The Hippy Mafia’s new album 21st Century Commonwealth Soul, released end of June could be interpreted as stand against this era’s wave of mass nostalgia and desire to carbon copy the ’60s/’70s lick for lick. It’s something you can pick up within the words of rapper Mike Danger’s opening Martin-Luther-esque announcement right at the beginning of the album; “Its been a long time, a long wait and 69 yrs. is a long time to be beating on your guitar” and its straight into the first track King of the Sky.
Dangers bars delivered in that cool Brooklyn flow go toe to toe with one of the baddest funked-up guitar riffs on the album. King of the Sky has already become a HM fave and is spot on to introduce the albums multi flavoured track list.
The albums first change up from the rock/rap sparring act of King of the Sky comes via the introspective Strange Man’s Hat. A dreamy, electric acoustic travellers tune which could quite possibly be the fine voiced Johnny Castro plays out in a nippy 2:09.
Love the white rock/pop of Apollo Creed for its Roxy Music vibe and then its back to the trippy hip hop rock collective’s Mr Thousand pound Man. Kicking in like some mad ’60’s pop carnival with a hint of some thing early Red Hot Chilli Peppers its high flying chorus is easy one of the ‘coolest’ and definitely most fun on the albums track list.
Think of England takes you off some where else once again, this time with a piano piece, something deep and a tad dark you do feel at times like you’re listening to three different groups, one that parties, raps, rocks then drops ballad on you, but that’s one of the pulls of 21st Century Commonwealth Soul, and it just keeps coming with two stand outs back to back.
The atmospheric 4th ‘n’ 5th bobs and weaves some where between Sgt Pepper and that same indie/dance groove Hippy Mafia Drummer Gaz Whelan helped pioneer with the ‘Mondays’ back in the late ’80s. Other tunes include the trip-hop of Enlightenment which makes way for Nobody Knows and its electric pop rock with piano.
The last two tracks play at the very opposite of the albums intro of souped up rap/rock intro.
First with the psychedelic/anti establishment vibe of How to Outwit a Mosquito, which makes good on its Eastern-flavored rhythm and smoothed-out rhyming.
Signing out with Follow, kinda Crowed House with subtle country over tones just highlights the albums freedom and the bands own ability in producing a quality album.
From its stripped back beauty to the fired up guitar raps 21st Century Commonwealth Soul’s timing couldn’t be better.
Pre-orders for the album for 24th of June release are available here.
All words by Carl Stanley. You can read more from Carl on LTW here.