Listening to the whole of Taiwan MC’s debut full-length Cool & Deadly is a musical explosion. Throughout, the skilled French singer, frequent Chinese Man collaborator, and sure confuser of Sinophiles embraces a range of musical styles while generally maintaining a bouncy dancefloor-friendly vibe.
“Faya Cyaan Done” makes the role of reggae clear with its rolling bass line, horns de triumph, and of course lines like ‘yes we are go rise up against Babylon, hoping to see the barriers fall to the ground.’ Infused with jazzy hip hop vibes, “Money In My Pocket” is all about the lyrical flow of host and guest (Tumi), while still featuring both a catchy hook (“I’ve got money in my pocket and I just can’t get no love”) and slick scratch outro from Dj Nix’on.
“A Mi Lado” is another eclectic hip hop cut, entering with some horns and an ambling beat before Miscellaneous, Paloma Pradal, and Dj Idem respectively bring a tight guest verse, the soaring chorus, and hardly-subtle turntablism: ‘don’t fuck with the best.’ Falling into a bit of pop, “Your Lovin'” slows down the tempo for the first of two duets with Anouk Aiata, who here trade lines about missing one another and, yes, love.
“Dem A Wonder” smoothly eases back into bubbly reggae, as a nuanced riddim section provides a solid backdrop for a cool mixture of instrumentation amidst Taiwan MC’s boastful delivery. “Judgement” continues the Jamaican stylings, with strong horn lines in a ska style and a proper vintage vocal. What should be readily apparent by now is not only how well Taiwan MC switches between genres and styles, but also how well producer Son Of A Pitch takes the trappings and stereotypes of them and twists them in subtle ways within the depth and layers of each track.
Anouk Aiata returns for another romantic turn on “Bubblin’,” bringing a more powerful and intriguing delivery; here it’s about love on the dance floor as Taiwan MC croons just a bit over her titular (no euphemism necessarily intended) moves. Next, “Big Bag” is indeed rockin’ it in a colleyman style – in a ganjaman style – and while the old-timey keys pair well with the digital clap, it’s the drop into electro-hop that twists this into cleverly unexpected territory.
An ode to the globe-trotting MC lifestyle, “Wobble Ballad” emphasizes its bass in sparse doses, leaving pretty of space for the positive vocal vibes and unusual song structure. The penultimate track is either dancehall-gone-flamenco or a Spanish big band from the future, but regardless this – the lead single – is designed to shake hips and speakers equally.
Paloma Pradal carries the hook with class, while the verses question how “Catalina” can ‘wine so good,’ amongst other concerns. The key is in the posterior, it seems. In closing is the relatively sprawling future bass (or is it throwback gangsta rap?) of “Murda Sound,” which finds Youthstar, Miscellaneous, and Cyph4 spitting tough and tougher before Taiwan MC closes it all down: ‘yes we mash it up until the very last drop.’ Which is exactly what happens on this diverse release, so there should be some thing(s) here for all discerning NiceUp readers!
The Groove Thief
.the future of dub is the present.
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