Saturday, 6 December 2014

Down To Erf "Down To Erf" (1998)


In the mood for some chilled out Hip Hop I pulled this gem out from my collection, its an 8 track EP from Canadian group "Down To Erf" consisting of rapper Mathematik and a DJ who's name I am unaware of. There is very little information about the group on the Internet and this would appear to be their only release, one which we could consider a lost classic, however time tells a story. This was once a record I couldn't put down, it was at a time when I was rapidly expanding my discovery of the East Coast, listening to records like "Illmatic" & "Lifestyles Of The Poor And Dangerous". It served as a laid back, jazzier rendition of the classic early 90s sound. After a few years It hasn't quite the spark I remember, some of its flaws are more apparent, but its still a personal favorite, mainly for the jazzy samples and grooving beats.

Rapper Mathematik has a soothing flow, a steady pace delivering technical lyrics delivered in a consistent, yet tame manor. His style is approachable and indulging, easy to follow, and his lyrical ideas are on point, but he falls short in a important places. The calm and steady delivery is continually mechanical, leaving little room for variety, a spontaneous change of flow or any energy, charisma etc. From start to end Math follows the same formula which can often have him falling into the background as his style becomes monotone. His lyrics are clever, and serve a strength he couldn't do without. "When I fight, the weapons are the rhymes I write", "Hip Hop bath, cleansing in the words of Math". There are plenty of clever lines scattered throughout this record. There a pleasure, but the lack of variety and ideas beyond his typical flow held him back from doing something truly great.

The record starts off with an estranged mix of samples coming together with a standard beat that quickly fades out to a sub bass kick that brings in a steady beat accompanied by dreamy bass noise and scattered, distant instrumentation that comes and goes. The tone is set well as Math drops in and lays down the vibe for the album. From track to track choice samples of jazzy pianos, bass and trumpets are arranged with strong drum beats that create a great set of instrumentals that could compliment any rapper. The instrumentals are great, but like Maths flow, they do lack variety. Most tracks follow the formula of dropping the main sample or snare to add variety to the beat, never truly breaking up the track and fusing something different into these songs, but that does not take away from the chemistry the samples and beats achieve. A great, slightly flawed record that is still enjoyable and a choice listen for any 90s Hip Hop fan.

Favorite Tracks: Rhyme Training, To Each His Own, State Of The Art
Rating: 6/10

3 comments:

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  2. I wouldn't consider this a lost classic but an album which deserved more recognition. Math's delivery is strong but I do wish they would have broken up the beats a lot more and added some composition to the record. It is amazing how lost you can get in a sound, for me that was the last fifty seconds of Learn To Earn. Looks like I'll be digging through his solo stuff this weekend.

    If you're a fan of the jazzier side of hip hop then Arts The Beatdoctor "Transitions" album is worthy of a spin. The album consists of mainly instrumental work but the arrangement and the mix of hip hop, jazz and electronic samples are outstanding. My favourite tracks are "Fragments", "Decreasing Daylight", "Mellow Drama".
    West Coast based Stones Throw Records have some hidden gems in their catalog that are worth checking out too.

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  3. VIC_CFM_EDIFIC_2A12 December 2014 at 20:56

    This is a fine album! That jazzy approach makes a unique rap compared to my previous listening experiences. Certainly feels like a mixture of gray on top of more gray with its lack of variation. Mathematik's timbre of voice kind of contributes to the monotony. What really interest me are the lyrics, just like every rap should be. For its size it doesn’t get boring. I found it good while it lasted. Thank you for this share X!

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