Thursday, March 12, 2009

2 Hungry Bros Got Soul

By Evan Rytlewski
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The thrill of the Internet's all-you-can-eat buffet of mixtapes wears off soon after discovery, when most mixes quickly begin to bleed together into one big, undistinguished ball, but the latest 2 Hungry Bros mix, My Crew's All Thinner, stands out-it's one of the handful of mixes that attempts something genuinely different. That it makes such an impression is remarkable given the dearth of big-names attached. Most every track showcases a new unknown rapper (Homebody Sandman and Substantial are among the more recognizable guests, which isn't say too much). The raps are a mixed bag, then, but the music is absolutely kinetic.

The beat-making faction of Brooklyn's AOK Collective, 2 Hungry Bros exploit the low-budget nature of mixtapes, but instead of recycling beats that have been done to death, they borrow from oft-sampled cuts like Al Hirt's "Harlem Hendoo," The Menahan Street Band's "Make the Road by Walking" and Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" in their raw form, before they were chopped up and refashioned as "Ego Trippin' (Part Two)," "Roc Boys" and "Touch the Sky."

There is of course a reason producers break down their source material into loops—lest we forget Marky Mark's "Wildside," the embarrassing single where Whalberg just rapped over the instrumental to Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," including its unmistakable saxophone coda—but here the 2 Hungry Bros make a case for letting great source material breathe a little bit. With its clipped, endlessly repeated samples, jazz-rap from the early '90s sounds rigid compared to this material, where the songs unfold at their own pace, and brass solos come and go. On this mixtape, old soul grooves take top billing over the rappers.
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