ExP - Fully Fledged Fraud
Reviewed by David Taylor
Label : N/A Crowdfunded
Genre : Hip Hop
I first heard ExP as part of 3 man Hip Hop group Flame Griller in which he is joined by West Yorkshire counterparts JND and Addverse.
Flame Griller stamped their authority on UK Hip Hop with a nice blend of jazz loops and raw beats on the production coupled with highly skilled, eloquent and often humorous rhymes on their debut album ‘Flamegriller’ and follow up ‘Flamegriller 2’.
ExP’s solo projects reflect a similar aesthetic to Flamegriller but he takes his apparent love of digging for Jazz loops to another level with some expertly executed beats over neat brass loops and grooves from the Jazz genre which provide the perfect setting to his flow.
Opening track ‘Have to Do’ features a lovely brushed drum break cut up to some seriously smooth Jazz loops. ExP provides a dose of clever commentary as he expresses his frustration with breaking out on a solo career.
‘Wack’ is a stand out track and this is where ExP’s formula comes into its own; the combination of a brutally honest and at times hilarious satire on current affairs rapped over an insanely catchy Jazz loop and heavy beat is just such an incredible combination!
‘Mr Ow Much’ is another highlight where ExP speaks about a topic that lets face it annoys all of us: the price of a pint! In steps a catchy bass riff for good measure underneath another head nod inducing beat.
Welcome in the best break on the album in my book on ‘Get a Wriggle on’. The fast break patters along while ExP spits rapid fire verses with aplomb about making the most of life while you still can. An exhibition of ExP’s good taste in sample selection and rhyme ability indeed.
‘Elegy’ slows the pace down with an emotional and honest account of ExP’s experience of his father suffering from Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s the switch in styles and the juxtaposition to the other tracks that took my breath away or maybe it’s the sombre but as usual expertly delivered vocal but this track is a beautiful piece of music making this album something for the heart as well as the head.
‘High Horse’ puts a loop from ‘You Can Make it if You Try’ by Sly & the Family Stone to good use. This is another belter.
‘Don’t Care at All’ brings the pace back down and saunters along to a lovely Rhodes type loop as ExP rhymes about his distaste at those with a careless attitude. The fast flow in the verses is complimented with a sung chorus and this track makes it clear that writing a damn catchy hook is also in ExP’s skill set.
Closing track ‘Failing’ is an upbeat ditty on which ExP regales us with verses about being accepting of failure that make way to another catchy hook.
To me Hip Hop is a genre that allows complete creativity to the artist and the best Hip Hop always pushes the boundaries slightly and comes with something original. ExP has this down in spades and maximum respect is due for creating such an original, timely and creative body of work with this album.
If you look back at releases over the last 10 years it could be a struggle to see which albums are going to stay relevant and still be played and talked about in 20 years time. I’m confident that this album will stand the test of time though; it’s more than some beats and bars it’s actually a very clever commentary on what our society is like in 2019 that is equally entertaining, funny and deep. Bravo ExP.