Upper Hutt Posse: Against The Flow

NZ Listener

AGAINST THE FLOW, Upper Hutt Posse (Southside)

The Posse have learned a lot about both recording and performing since their historic (first local rap record) but sadly flat-sounding ‘E Tu’ single a year ago. Their first long player (and at around 60 minutes I mean long) begins bright and punchy with ‘Clockin’ The Time’ – a finely wrought rap over a strong bassline, it boasts a real hook of a chorus. And such signs of musical progress pop up throughout the album. A leaning towards reggae distinguishes the posse from most of their funk-sampling US contemporaries.

What occasionally trips up these tracks are Dean (D-Word) Hapeta’s profuse political lyrics, which at times sacrifice meter for message. The themes of liberation and indigenous rights are potent, but much of the rhetoric is merely the same idea repeated in different ways. The Posse could afford to cut out a few of the clunkers. In contrast to Hapeta’s tracks, Bennet (MC B-Ware) Pomona’s ‘Basketball’ may be lightweight but at least rhythmically he never drops the ball.

Teremoana Rapley’s soulish vocals are the record’s mellowest moments and also its shakiest. The slowish ‘Stormy Weather’, where she duets with Hapeta, is only a partial success; when the likes of LL Cool J struggle with the rap ballad the Posse must know they are on dangerous turf.

So it’s no Nation Of Millions; there are things about it that are unformed and clumsy. But for accusations of posturing and imitation, they’re no guiltier than any other New Zealand band - remember all those groups that wanted to be the Velvet Underground? The Posse’s music is positive and uncompromising and promises greater things to come.

Tags: dean hapetaupper hutt possemaoriraphip hopdltpacific

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