Published May 23, 2019We all know the worst hip-hop glamorizes materialism and excess. But some of the best rap elevates such desires into fantasies that can inspire the disenfranchised. It's a fine line that Halifax duo Aquasocks traverse with grace on "Abu Dhabi," a key track on their new album, Holos.
The song's lyrics not only find the pair travelling to that ritzy far-flung locale, but also treating their ladies to a shopping spree while there. Over a soothingly sensual looped female background vocal and a buzzing saxophone (all helmed by producer DJ Uncle Fester), the duo — veteran nerd rapper Ghettosocks, who always strives for left field concepts, and the more ruggedly down-to-earth Aquakulture — make the daydream sound like a laudable mission on the chorus.
Aqua's everyday details seem effortless, but contain multitudes of relatability, as he describes meeting his would-be better half for the first time and surmising how she diligently clocked a long day based on a glance at her work attire. Socks also spits evocative lines about the "electric" atmosphere between him and his special someone.
Socks also produces some of the album's best tracks, like "Marsha Ambrosius" and "Sensei & Grasshopper." But other prime instrumentals on Holos come courtesy of Bix. He begins the aptly titled "Conversation" with a field recording of party-goers chatting indecipherably (though Canadian accents ring out clearly). Those voices meld with elegant horn notes before an even jazzier piano riff suavely swoops in.
Bix's beat on album opener, "Wonderground," meanwhile, is dark and brooding. The song's brittle snare crackles as Aqua devours the track with lines about smelling his foe's pheromones and other battle-rap-worthy ciphers.
Other prime lines come from Shevy Price (a queen bee MC if ever there was) throughout her too-brief guest verse on "Trump Tight." "Your whole career Minute Maid / But you're lacking the juice," she spits with an audible grin as horns snarl like her very own cavalry of rottweilers in the background.
These are but a few of the highlights on an approachable and unassuming, yet deftly assured LP by two of the East coast's finest. All that and more make Holos a must-listen for fans of old-fashioned boom bap, intricate rhymes and ambitious MCs who don't forget to have fun. (Black Buffalo)