Review: Krate Krusaders – When the Needle Drops
There’s a lot to admire in the workman-like attitude and banging hip hop beats of UK production duo Krate Krusaders’ second release “When the Needle Drops”, even if it serves better as an introduction to the many featured
There’s a lot to admire in the workman-like attitude and banging hip hop beats of UK production duo Krate Krusaders’ second release “When the Needle Drops”, even if it serves better as an introduction to the many featured UK and US rappers than it does in showcasing their excellent beat-smithery.
The Plymouth duo of Bad Habitz and 1 Step, formed 2007, have worked prolifically as beat makers for emcees. While the first proper album was pretty damn fine, the guest list on this new record (covering UK and US rappers) is truly substantial: Dizzy Dustin (of Ugly Duckling), Akil the MC (of Jurassic 5), Dr Syntax, Dominique Larue, Homeboy Sandman, Buggsy, Ramson Badbonez, Fliptrix, Split Prophets, Sonnyjim, Jack Flash, Freestyle (of The Arsonists), and many more.
The beats mostly stick to 4-bar sample loops, tight drops, sharp drums, and lots of percussive flourishes to keep it fresh. Krate Krusaders deliver that heavy and ready sound which fill the floor and gets the heads nodding. Fans of OZ-hip hop would probably really dig this (there’s a strong Hilltop Hoods and Obese Records vibe in all of the tracks) as this really fits that 2002-era and Jurassic 5 style.
The best results are when the beats match perfectly with their emcee. Upfront and Buggsy’s professional dub-influenced verses slide and snap effortlessly over the warbly beat on “What Life Is”, while “Mamba”, meshes the verses by very talented female emcee Dominique Larue over a refreshingly tight harp-beat. “Crucify me”, “You & I” and the album’s first single “Fade to Black” (featuring Akil the MC of Jurassic 5) deliver the big head-nodders for the punters, while “Modern” stands out as giving enough melodic room and a looser beat for Homeboy Sandman (newly signed to Stones Throw Records) to experiment with verse structures and different cadences.
Even though the record is a solid head-nodder, the absence of DJ cuts and scratches might just be the missing element here to bring the beats up to a higher level, and the notable absence of instrumental tracks disappoints somewhat. Regardless, the skills on show here, both in snappy edged beats and emcee talent (much of which was new to me) ought to leave the classic-hiphop crowd well satisfied, and is nicely suited for a Sunday beer.