Under the underground – some call it the backpacker emcees terrain, others call it the solitude of independent hip-hop music, but most hip-hop fans probably just think of it as the place that goofy play-around emcees record below-average music for their own fun. The Aberfoyle Springs series begs to differ.
Following the immense appeal of the first two HipHopHotSpot.com releases, “Aberfoyle Springs, Volume 1” and the “Bare Skin Compilation,” comes the second in the Aberfoyle Springs series, “Aberfoyle Springs, Volume 2: Well Flavoured Essentials.” And, much like in movies and other areas of music, the second volume proves that sometimes sequels are just better left untouched.
While the outstanding first volume had now legendary undergrounders Apathy and Celph Titled pushed so far back on the album (due to the plethora of good underground music) that most first-time listeners probably didn’t even hear either on the first listen, “Well Flavoured Essentials” manages to put together a half-disc of delightful underground hip-hop tracks sprinkled with confusingly unappealing tracks that might have been better left buried.
The album opener, the Jon Doe-produced “Hot Night” from Scienz of Life radiates a Spanish-flair with heavy horns promising to give listeners “more of what you want.” The equally-as-hot K-Skills and Celph Titled track, “Who’s Fucking Around,” features the saucy K-Skills spitting, “N----s with those weak Casio beats, don’t even approach me, Or I’m gonna throw your beat tape in the wastebasket, faggot, Go in your crib and break your sampler like a bad habit!” Energized performances from both emcees mark the highlight of “Essentials” with the charm of the underground and the persistent Celph Titled delivering a banger in the process.
Rok One similarly destroys the slowly laced pianos of “Southern Discomfort,” as he amply discusses the death of a past unhealthy relationship (“No need to carry on relations, ‘Cause I ain’t really down for fornication with the spawn of Satan.”) And the growingly-funny Storm Da Unpredictable conveys a message to the skinny model b—ches on “Get Your Weight Up (Big Girl Anthem)” with an entertaining dialogue to the toothpick girls on the dance floor.
Elsewhere though, “Well Flavoured Essentials” suffers from several underground performers that seem to have left their best contributions at home for the day. “Blew Clouds” (Kunga219), “Uh Huh” (City Planners), “Dark Holiday” (Lexicon), and “Tourist on Mars” (LoDeck) might appeal to those looking to completely separate from themselves from the rest of hip-hop – but as for positive contributions to an album seeking to rise above mediocre? Look elsewhere.
Even tracks like “Famous Names for $200” (Atoms Family), where Alaska, Windnbreeze, and Cryptic One rapid-fire through celebrity names, are creative enough to deserve a listen or two, but quickly lose their appeal and replay value, stuck within a single creative moment before lapsing into oblivion (and doesn’t it sound sort of like the R.E.M. track “It’s the End of the World” with all the names being dropped?)
The underground of hip-hop will always exist to some degree – unknown or rarely-heard-from emcees trying to drop the next hidden gem that may or may not surface as time passes by. Unfortunately, “Aberfoyle Springs, Volume 2: Well Flavoured Essentials” tastes only partly-good and might only be essential for a few select tracks. Otherwise, some of artists keep digging themselves deeper underground, while a select few are slowly rising to the top. And while the “Aberfoyle Springs” series may go on, it will continue to be hard to top the original.