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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Purchase, 15 Dec 2007
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This review is from: Mantronix - The Album (Audio CD)
In late 1985 Kurtis Mantronik and MC Tee released 'Fresh Is The Word' as a 12" single on the New York based 'Sleeping Bag Records', and as a result of the success of that single - which had an immediate impact on the Hip Hop community - were able to go on to release this, the simply titled 'The Album'.

From the moment you hear the introduction to 'Bassline' you know that this is different. Mantronix always had a unique sound, and here there is an immediate air of purpose and menace to the music. This is Hip Hop, but it isn't Hip Hop by numbers, and it isn't about slavishly following the predominant musical Hip Hop blueprint of the time. This can be seen in the crisp introduction of 'Needle To The Groove' (latterly sampled by Beck and The Beastie Boys) and the 'Mega Mix' featuring the edits of The Diamond Two (Chet Nunez and Charlie D). The inclusion of a 'Mega Mix' (perhaps the first self referencing type found on a Hip Hop album) is also noteworthy as this would become a staple on any subsequent release by the group. The strong rythmic elemnt in Mantronix is excellently showcased in 'Ladies' and 'Get Stupid Fresh', a sparse dub like soundscape featuring the short vocal interjections of MC Tee. 'Fresh Is The Word' is propulsive and simple, a driving simple beat allied to the strongly lyrical voice of Tee, whilst in 'Harcore Hip Hop' the group reference many of the founders of Hip Hop, on a track that is unrelenting in its intensity.

This is an album which can be rewarding and frustrating in equal measure,it does not quite work as a complete presentation, and this was perhaps the point apparently acknowledged by Mantronik's own later assessment of the album - that it was really to be viewed as an EP in which his early attempts to grapple with the available technology can clearly be heard as he also attempted to produce his own particular 'sound world'. A further contributing factor to this sense of uneveness can perhaps be explained by the simple fact that there was nothing quite like the sound produced by Mantronix in Hip Hop in 1985 or subsequently. The group has never quite fitted in to the prevailing narrative of Hip Hop often espoused today, and this perhaps explains their relative absence in many considerations of the history of the music form.

In this new remastered package by EMI you get a number of bonus tracks included, most notably the mix of 'Hardcore Hip Hop' (known as the NME mix) which was not previously widely commercially available. The sound quality is excellent, and EMI is to be commended for the care taken in this release. If you are a fan then you may well own this on vinyl, in which case this represents an excellent opportunity to replace a worn or damaged disc with worthwhile bonus material included.

If there is a complaint it is that there are no accompanying liner notes, which could have gone some way to explaining how unique and important the group was - and how Mantronik's production work (here in its early stages) would go on to have an impact beyond the confines of Hip Hop.

So. Buy this, enjoy the music, and perhaps consider exploring the later 'Music Madness' (1986) and 'In Full Effect' (1988) - where the soundscapes hinted at on this release are more fully realised.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS WHERE IT STARTED, 21 Jun 2002
This review is from: Album (Audio CD)
Kurtis Mantronik ie (king of the beats) the musical and production nous behind Mantronix was and is a genius. Ably assisted as he was on this and 2 other lp's by M.C. Tee he meshed electro sounds with slow funky beats innovative samples and Tees original and very musical sounding positive raps. Quite simply these guys were way ahead of any so called competition at the time bringing forward as they did the best elements of early 80's electro with hip hop to create a unique sound. At first assisted by the editing skills of the Latin Rascals the young Kurtis Mantronik went on to develop edit style trackssuch as the mega mix here that became lp highlights rather than fillers to pack out a weak album.
All the tracks here are great with Bassline and Ladies standing out as singles. The bass heavy slow and simple but funky 'fresh is the word' was the first single ever by Mantronix.
However it's Bassline that gets the most attention from Kurtis too as he has woven it's distinctive Roalnd TB303 bassline (for once not squelching acid) into many subsequent releases ie 'we control the dice','push your hands up' etc. Frankly who can blame him as it sounds dope even today and he can hardly be said to have rested on his laurels going on to produce 4 more Mantronix lp's and 2 Kurtis Mantronik ones together with notable writing/production duties for Just Ice,T la Rock,Joyce Sims and a host of others. Kurtis also became a remixer extraordinaire with artist as diverse as Steve reich,Korn,Shirley Bassey and Aswad all benefitting.
To get back to 'the album' though you simply must own a copy of this as perhaps more than any of his later group lp's which had excellent tracks (well ok maybe not 'the incredible sound machine') were less consistent or groundbreaking.
Warlock should be applauded for making Mantronix and Joyce Sims old releases availale to us but ashamed that u.k. release is import only when so much of their success came through the u.k. market.
still that's the way it goes so buy it here and make them see it's commercial sense to get this noticed again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 20 years old, still going strong, 1 July 2005
This review is from: Album (Audio CD)
Turn up the bass, dim the lights and close your eyes. Cue up Bassline and hit play.
Even now, I get hairs on the back of my neck standing like bristles when I hear it all kick in, because it takes me back to a day when rap and hip hop was pure and simple.
The duo of MC Tee and Kurtis Mantronik are legends, and it started right here.
This album has been sampled and re-cycled my many, but there can be no subsitute-this is the real deal. Sounds as good on my iPod as almost any current hip-hop shenanigans-even though the production quality isn't up to scratch.
Yeah, sure, it's not quite stood the test of time, but to me, it remains a milestone in rap music.
Addictive, simple and pure-even though you can't always make out the lyrics... MC Tee has a habit of using any word that will fit and rhyme to finish his sentences-but it just seems 'right' some how.
Play these tracks to anyone who was into breakdance in the 80s and they'll go wild!
And as mentioned in this section in another review, for a virtual unknown to make it into a modern video game is quite an achievement.
I, for one, keep the legend alive at least once a month.
Fresh is the word.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top tunes, 6 May 2011
This review is from: Mantronix - The Album (Audio CD)
Back to the old school with this gig. If you liked the real hip hop era and not the new wave so called hip hop, this is the one for you. From the electro era and think some of this was on electro 9 - that's where it's at. A defo buy buy buy ! Enjoy....
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 15 May 2007
S. Ebden (Lincoln United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mantronix - The Album (Audio CD)
When Curtis Mantronik and MC Tee released this album in 1985 it forever changed the sound of Hip Hop. Tight production and intricate programming lifted the bar for the quality of Hip Hop. Such was Mantronik's influence that stars queued up to work with him, such as Just Ice, Marley Marl, Tricky Tee and T LA Rock. Bassline and Ladies have been included on the track list of classic Hip Hop compilations ever since. An essential purchase for those interested in old school electro.
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