Review: Elemint – Brain Food LP (2011)
The ‘Brain Food LP’ from Indianapolis native Elemint sits comfortably somewhere between People Under the Stairs, Looptroop Rockers or The Sound Providers. Sometimes upbeat and summery, sometimes heavy and head-nodding, but always relating back to jazz-hop, the album is a great introduction to Elemint’s brisk and energetic thinking-man lyrics.
‘Brain Food’ features impressive beat contributions from 2011 head-turning debutant Brock Berrigan, as well as Maker, Octopus Drummer, and ProducerNature.
On first listen its easy to be struck by Elemint’s controlled vocal delivery and tight verse structure with plenty of lyrical variation and conscious wordplay. He gives off an impression of youthful earnestness and honesty, while although a couple of tracks wax on maybe a little long about the life-changing aspects of hip hop, he rarely strays into pretension (Kero One critics can breathe a sigh of relief here). Elemint’s voice sits comfortably within a certain pitch and delivery-range which could easily get tiring over a few tracks, but instead remains varied and engaging over the variety of beats and moods on display here with assistance from MASA over a few tracks.
Production duties are shared among the varied work of Octopus Drummer, Maker (Chicago beatsmith who released the excellent instrumental album ‘Falcon by Design‘ with Joe Beats earlier this year), and Brock Berrigan (a New Jersey beatmaker who made waves in 2011 with two fantastic debut beat tape releases, and has very quickly established himself as one to watch), and a promisingly sassy cool-jazz beat here from UK-based ProducerNature.
The real stand out banger on the record has to be ‘Modern Man’, a punchy boot-dragging hobo-beat from Brock Berrigan, pumping underneath’s Elemint’s appropriately huskified and glitched vocals. The ironic ‘gangster’ chorus hides frustrated rip-my-heart-out verses which stick in your head long after the LP has wrapped up, and shows an angstier, bare-all bravado than the rest of the record. A track to keep coming back to, with the fitting hook, “I want MORE”.
The release’s B-side features extended instrumentals and a few remixes which really let the work of Octopus Drummer and Brock Berrigan shine, but of note here is a surprisingly stripped down remix of Uncanny Calling, an acoustic-guitar and digitised drum droove with flourishes from soft melodic synth pads and vibes, which really lets Elemint’s vocals shine while putting a completely different spin on the track.
‘Brain Food’ is an honest and quick listen, with some real standouts on show, some good-vibe head-nod grooves, and not a dud beat in the bunch. Recommended.