The question is, who are they? Jordan "Rizzle" Stephens and Harley "Sylvester" Alexander-Sule are just 19 and 20 years old respectively, just a couple of teens who decided in the last year or so to start creating their own fresh style of hip-hop after meeting at Blatchington Mill school in Brighton, UK, collaborating on a few songs and then finally, with help from a friend, made some music videos on their YouTube channel that showcased their strengths with no real weaknesses.
They've only really "officially" released two songs, but they've got a ton more online and recently put together a number one duet with X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs in August 2011, but their inaugural album definitely tells the world they've got the knack for not just being confined to a "collaborator" any longer.
14 songs, totaling just about 50 minutes:
1. Dreamers - they know what they want, and that's total domination. First England, then the world. They come out swinging, and they definitely score big by showing they will not being denied their chance to show everyone they're the real deal. They rap about how about they're ready to take off, and don't step on their Nike trainers! It's only a dream away, according to this opener.
2. When I Was A Youngster - they're young, they're letting you know who they are and what they wanted when they were kids, and these guys really know how to have fun with their music, mixing some reggae in the background with fresh modern beats, and this one song puts a couple of older more established rappers to shame with their actual joy of creating their music.
3. Round Up - they're mixing accordions with hip-hop beats and they make it work, but with an edge worth a listen. They're taking bits of synth and rap they're just glad to show off their talents, and it's a audio circus worthy of anyone else out there.
4. Down With The Trumpets - this is their high point here, a great tune just released this summer, just in time to once again showcase their talent, their brashness, their style, and their wit with their lyrics. And watch out men, don't leave your woman alone with them too long, their beat will get your gals moving right along with them like a teen Pied Piper's siren song. It doesn't get much more fun than right here.
5. Demolition Man - It's like they said, this is their "demo," but if this what they sold to Universal Records to get them to sign them, I wished I was there, I'd have signed them in seconds! The beats are at one point funky, then the breaks kick in with slightly out of tune guitars, and they are rapping hard to sell you their message. Hey, it's no doubt their for real here.
6. Prophet (Better Watch It) - this was their first "official" release this year, and they've never sounded better at almost sing-speaking their lyrics about what they can be, what someone tried to do to them, and who they are as rappers. It's wonderfully subtle and well worth a second listen.
7. Mama Do The Hump - Produced and collaborated with Brighton DJ Fatboy Slim, the song is a wonderful mishmash of pieces of found sounds and raps that overlap the entire song. Of course, it kinda reminded me a little of a sped-up "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg, especially since they are both talking about their lifestyles behind a crazy simplistic beat. Granted, it works, but I guess I wanted it to be bigger than it could have been, but that Brighton sound is there regardless. This song will be remixed even faster for the dance floor, for sure.
8. Miss Cigarette - they equate a smoke to a good woman, and they just can't put her down, no matter what everyone else says! This song was one of their first releases from late 2010, and as an introduction it sways and makes you groove with an old time funkiness that's fun to listen to. Addiction has never sounded more fun.
9. Traveller's Chant - it's like the 1970's and early 1980's R&B vibe meeting the 2011 sensibility of new British rap, and this is one of the most enjoyable songs on the album to listen to for me. It's got an instant nostalgic feel for me, and maybe it will for you too. They've got something to prove, but they just can't sit still to tell you about it - they've got a world to conquer!
10. Stop With The Chatter - this song tells the haters and the those who dismiss them that they've got a better set of company to be with, and if you don't like it, too f'n bad. This is their "hardest" track and is all about the music, 100 percent.
11. Homewrecker - girls, you know that these two are mostly good boys, but then again this song tells you that if your man isn't doing much for you, then I guess what happens happens, and if weren't holding on that tight to him, then maybe you really didn't want him at all. That pretty much is the song's story, plain and simple.
12. Trouble - it always starts in the pub, when all you want to do is have a good time before last orders, but why is it that there's always those group of idiots who want to make the night a total mess? This is what happens, and the devil is one of your shoulders, and the the angel on the other, both whispering what to do. Be wise, RK is saying, and you'll figure out the rest. That decision is all up to you, and they leave the song like that, too.
13. Learn My Lesson - On this side of the album they've been getting deep, and the questions continue as the music gets more relaxed. You want to go out and party, but the rent money's in your pocket, and there's pubs to hit and hotties to buy drinks for and maybe after listening to this, you'll understand what's going on in almost every young person's mind. Party now, worry tomorrow - or should you question it even before making the big mistakes? The thoughts are getting deep indeed, and the beat keeps going on... pretty insightful stuff.
14. Even On A Rainy Day - the last track on the album is probably the deepest in thought with the most interesting beats to back it up. They are completely British here, giving you the weather report as well as the youth of England are thinking - one minute sunny, one minute cloudy, and all the while moving forward through the rain, keeping the music playing and the beat moving, with their breaks and their optimism, and the music just pumping along.
In the end, I'm giving this debut by two nice boys from Brighton 5 stars.
I haven't heard anyone this young with a debut this good since DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince over 20 years ago. The tracks (and the beats) are danceable, the lyrics are timely and the duo of Rizzle Kicks can make it work, and it sounds like they have a real winner here. They have a nice mix of a jazzy reggae funk 1980's flavor that works 100%.
Granted, I'm from a little town called Chicago in America, but I listen to European music because it seems that Europe took it's cue since the 1960's and has re-invented every style of modern music we've thrown out there, from rock to punk to alternative to even R&B and rap.
Kelly Rowland is a monster in Europe, but barely gets any real radio play in the US. I suspect that RK will be a number one smash in England, but in the US? I don't know, time will tell. I hope this review proves that good music can be appreciated 3,000 miles from where it was released, but in the end music is universally relatable, and with Rizzle Kicks, they've got a great start here.
I say buy it now and check it out, especially if you're into the new voices of rap, it'll be a well worth your time to buy this, and do it now! - they're not getting any older...!