Northwest Division – R.B.P.H. [Review]
Vancouver, BC – Volunteer Media and Household Records present the debut album from Vancity’s fastest rising up-and-comers, Northwest Division titled R.B.P.H. Everything from Golden-Era type boom bap joints, to industry club bangers, ignorant party rap and also a few very personal songs are what it has to offer. If you’ve had the privilege of seeing Junk and Hungry perform live, you’ll know how strong their chemistry and team spirit is and this absolutely translates over to their recorded work as well.
There is a welcomed amount of diversity on the production front but it’s not exactly a baby’s ass – meaning there are a few bumps. The album is bold, dark and hardcore. Lots of distortion and gritty sinister sonics make up the majority of the beats but the old school sample based joints feel out of place peppered in with these modern synths and bowel moving bass. But props to them for paying tribute to an era we all love and experimenting a bit. It would have been so epic though to have the entire album follow the tone set by the opener “Work.” It felt so right. Overall though the beats are some of the best we’ve heard this year and the production is ultra polished.
All the guest appearance feel like they serve a purpose as well – rather than just having features for the sake of collaboration. Merkules – rap’s Rihanna (seriously, is there anyone more in-demand for features right now?) makes an appearance on the track “Fresh Blood” and ENG & Osa, Terell Safadi and more all contribute to the the album in a positive way.
Junk and Hungry’s rapping has a heavy emphasis on double time but there’s also the occasional punchline that smacks you in the teeth, too. They keep it balanced, though and speed up and slow down so that you’re not completely overwhelmed and left in the dust. Listening to Junk execute this style is like watching Einstein tackle math equations. It’s insane. He’s unbelievably precise and accurate, never missing a syllable. Hungry on the other hand is like the little brother, or the apprentice for the most part. He’s not on the same level and you hear the effort in his flow when he pushes the pace.
The album has that “hard work and perseverance pays off” attitude but the boys still confess that they like to party – maybe a bit too much. On “Fuck Ya Life” Junk raps:
“Had a lotta’ shots plus premium lager, and the piña coladas and tequila with vodka / Got so drunk dry heavin’ it all up, till I need a doctor to be feedin’ me water”
You could (and you probably should because it’s something special) sit and listen to this album sober, alone, at home on the couch and focus on the lyrics. And while this is one way of doing it, it’s clearly meant for after hours and the weekend. When the boys rap, their voices become part of the beat and everything just gels together. Their fast-paced, high tempo flows fit into the groove so well, almost like another percussive instrument. You could be Jim Lahey’d (totally wasted) and just nod your head to it not focusing on the words and not giving a damn and the songs would still be as powerful. Then maybe you catch part of the hook when they slow it down. R.B.P.H encourages you to just let go and party harder.
While they might come across as complete savages, Junk and Hungry also show their more human side on songs like “Palm Trees” and “Those Eyes.” Songs about family and relationships, the struggles of daily life and basically stuff that we all go through. These are a nice change of pace and also allow the two emcees to express a different side of their lyrical abilities.
Rap Better Party Harder pretty much sums it all up in the title. This is a party album and you should probably be double fisting while listening to it. It paints picture of the night club and makes you want to imagine you and your friends in VIP “bottles coming make sure the waiter gets tossed 100.”
Don’t we all wish we had fat knots in our pockets on a Friday night to be able to pull off such a stunt? But Junk and Hungry make it seem all possible because while they are clearly certified sickos, their work ethic is unrivalled and you hear that in every song. So yeah, maybe we can order Belvedere instead of Smirnoff next week. Rap Better Party Harder has that hustler’s spirit that Hip-Hop is so famous for and these two emcee’s motivation is infectious.
Written by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
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