The fact of the matter is the Ed Banger legacy thus far looks rather ropey indeed – Uffie is nothing more than an agreeable one-trick pony, while the ridiculously over-hyped Justice and the execrable Busy P make dunderhead electro/techno with all the subtlety of sledgehammers. Only SebastiAn’s earlier releases still stand up to scrutiny. How to steady the ship? An artist album should do it… step forward DJ Mehdi.
The choice of the French hip-hop veteran shows label boss Pedro Winter’s commercial nous once again – a flip of the script is a fine way of warding off a potential backlash. Until now, Mehdi has lived in a different world to his brash stablemates. Making beats since 1995, he’s worked with a wide variety of French hip-hop artists, notching up hits and the odd controversy along the way. His trumpeted CV and his b-boy stance on the album cover set out the stall from the start – this ain’t gonna be no abrasive ‘electro’ romp. But is it enough? In two words: Sort of.
After the pleasantly dramatic opener, the second track is a sensational sucker-punch: ‘I Am Somebody’ is a swaggering, ‘Rapper’s Delight’-pilfering, Rick James-referencing electro-funk tale of life bouncers with attitude, with a smart narration by Chromeo. The lively synths, vocoder and clever drops pack a punch while the beats and growling bassline call to mind Har Mar Superstar’s ‘Power Lunch’. And it’s damn-near perfect. But that’s as good as it gets. The ghost of Dynamix II inhabits ‘Pony Rocking’ – Feadz’s chipmunk rap sits well with the tight cuts, abrasive bassline and classic synths, while the electro/house of ‘Saharian Break’ is an enjoyable collage that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The contrasting elements of the frenetic title track ‘Lucky Boy’ –glam bassline, catchy guitars and quasi-Eastern FX – complement each other adequately, but it’s ultimately forgettable. And this becomes something of a recurring theme. There are moments of merit in almost every track, but these rarely progress to a satisfactory level. Too often they feel like clever hip-hop instrumentals/Major Force homages waiting for a verse, a chorus… anything. If ‘Lucky Boy’ is actually intended – as the blurb claims – to be a ‘breakdance’ album, i.e. one for DJs to play, cut and chop, that’s fine. Or, if it’s the start of an unpredictable new direction for Ed Banger, that’s fine too. But as it stands – the debut album release on a label that’s put itself into the spotlight – it’s more miss than hit. Different, but more of the same.
Sat / 16 Dec 2006
1 Busy Being Born
2 I Am Somebody [feat. Chromeo - vocals, co-production]
5 Always Be An Angel
6 Pony Rocking [feat. Feadz]
7 Saharian Break
8 Lucky Boy [feat. Fafi - vocals]
9 Wee Bounce
10 Leave It Alone
11 Hot-O-Momo [feat. Xanax - vocals]
13 Love Bombing
14 Bonus Track