Rapped Youth - Jaska & Mä (Lahna Records CD)
I thought I'd ease my way back into the terrifying world of blogging (feeling better thanks!) with a totally weird release from the totally weirdest of Finnish labels - but don't hold me to that because it's Finland and I'm sure there'll be a challenger to the throne soon enough if not already. But whereas Lahna Records' countrymen and women of Fonal, Lal Lal Lal, and the like get ritually stuck with the "weird" tag any time you read about em, Lahna takes the cake with total out-ness and a vague "is this serious?" air hanging over anything they put out. Armas Huutamo, Petri Rainer, and now this EP from Rapped Youth, the "Cypress Hill of the northern taiga", what follows a CD-R EP they did for Lahna a while ago that's come and gone. This is an EP showcasing their two sure-to-be breakthrough tracks called (you guessed it) "Jaska" and "Mä". Tacked on are a radio edit of "Jaska", and a DJ Hallituksen (of DJ Government, you know) remix of each. It comes housed in a cardboard digipack and mine came with a bunch of Rapped Youth stickers (of their Yankees-style logo) that wouldn't peel so I had to toss em. Which is a bummer because I was itching to spread the word!
Of course the first account I had to settle mentally was, "is this serious?" and I'm pretty sure it is. Something like this might sway you in the other direction, but it just makes me want to believe it even moreso. Those three hep cats are, from left to right, Weed Jay, Desert R, and Homespirit P (can I name my firstborn "Homespirit"???). The liner notes make identifying each one on the track quite easy. Weed Jay is "low-end heavy user" which appears to mean he's producing, probably while smoking a lot of marijuana, while Homespirit P is the "casual MC" and Desert R is the "nasal MC". Both apt descriptions as well - Desert R is like a cross between B-Real and Brandon DiCamillo's CKY freestyle, which of course drags up that question of seriousness/irony all over again. But either you deal or you don't. Personally I think it's somewhere between genius and brilliance (with a touch of "amusing"). P is considerably more, well, casual in his approach, and the duo trade off verses on "Jaska" over a drum-and-horn heavy early 90's/L.A. beat, with what I think is live bass by Weed Jay. This track also features additional vocals from Missy Tee-Bagit (oh come on, her name is Tee-Bagit? Is this serious???) and she sounds kinda like a Finnish Nelly Furtado or something. It's better than it sounds, really. There's a brief back-and-forth of "ay ay ay" with the MCs and Missy and the kind of self-congratulatory hoopla that usually closes off your breakthrough rap single ("Rapped Youth" are the only words I understand, and it sounds like they're saying "Rapid You", much to my delight). I'd like to tell you about the lyrics, but, you know. "Mä" has a pretty sloshy beat with some lovely Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar plucking draped in vinyl crackle (wish I could place it because it sounds like a winner) alongside the bass and drums as on the prior. It's catchier in ways I can't describe because it's Finnish but the chorus is a real winner, P and R running down something.
The three "bonus" tracks are all kind of a wash, though. The radio edit of "Jaska" shaves off two minutes, editing out most of the minute-long phone call that opens the single version among other things, but the DJ Hallituksen remixes are the real bafflers because they sound almost identical to the originals. A couple loops here, some doubled vocals there, and that's bank. Which is weird because, according to the label, "DJ Governtment's DJ remixes with a recognizable touch. DJ Government's DJ has an uninhibited style of blending the pack and yet again it has produced tracks that are strongly independent works.". Is this serious??? Shit maybe it's so subtle I can't even tell...but calling them "strongly independent works" is a stretch and a half...listen to them back-to-back and you're almost hearing the same song twice.
I dunno, despite how totally ridiculous everything about it is, I'm feeling the Youth man. I could see a lot of people totally hating it but cmon, it's good fun. Way more interesting than, say, whatever Odd Nosdam's sneering over on Anticon. No sacred cows being devoured, just an honest opinion. But you may want to wait for the upcoming 7" issue of "Jaska & Mä", which trims some of the fat found here.
Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album