Ever wondered "what's the deal with Philadelphia?" Just ask DJ Skipmode or the Mighty Flipside Esq. Better yet, pick up the new disc and educate yourself. Aptly named, Electric City is the Electric City distilled, and "Everything, Everywhere, All the Time" is your walking tour.
A debut release, the disc comes after ten years of collaboration between the two Philly fixtures. Hosts to the city's longest-running monthly hip hop event, these two have years of stage-time under their belts. A member of Philadelphia's venerable DJ crew Illvibe Collective, Skipmode has taken his place in a lineage that includes Jazzy Jeff and Q-Bert. Along with one of the city's most sought-after MC's, Mighty Flipside Esq., the two have shared the stage with the likes of Kool Keith, P-Funk, Nelly, Xzibit, the Beatnuts, and J-Live.
An eclectic disc by any standards, versatility is not lacking here. In fact Electric City's sound is built upon their ability to evoke their predecessors. Just take role-call: Sugar Hill, Grandmaster Flash, the Beastie Boys, Del, Busta... Present. But in the words of Flipside, "this ain't nothin' new/ this is how we do." And it's true. While there's a dusty vintage texture to the disc, it's a casual display. The name-dropping in "Computer Rock" is convincing, as is the humble assertion that what Electric City does is well within the Old School. But still, when in "Do It Fluid" Flip professes his freshness, this too is apparent. While most lack the dexterity to juggle so much and keep the balls aloft, cohesion is not sacrificed for the sake of content, and this is the disc's greatest achievement.
In response to an industry they see as too easily seduced by the "flavor of the month," Electric City relies on the place where their, and all great music, is conceived, onstage. Between the dancehall -driven "Rewind Selectah," the doomy "Coda," and glitchy "Mind, Body, Soul" is a smattering of live tracks that capture Electric City in their natural environment. "Beat Box Interlude" finds Flip overcoming technical difficulties with nature's MPC, and "Best MC's" reminds us of where it is that the best are truly separated from the rest. Skipmode's beats are always warm thanks to his clean, live drums. And while he is no minimalist, Skip makes sure you take note of what he's up to.
Don't tell them that I told you, but track 16 (shhh! It's secret.) is the lynchpin to the whole jig. A crackling break sets the foundation for what becomes a dirty little gem, one layer at a time. And, at last, it all comes to light. Flip takes us through a little lesson in the evolution of style. It's a lesson that ends with one final instruction. Rinse and repeat.