By Lee Anderson
The history of rap music fused with a big band sound goes all the way back to the late Eighties/early Nineties with such artists as A Tribe Called Quest and Del La Soul. Miles Davis’ last album even included a few hip-hop beats. The trend seemed to fade, only showing up during college football halftime shows where rhythm brass and breakbeat drums thundered behind shako-hatted band members dancing along with lots of pelvis thrusts. Though the instruments were live, there was still a hip-hop beauty to it.
The Urban Renewal Project, while sounding like the latest eco-positive, city redevelopment deal, is also a sixteen-member musical collaboration. It involves core-member Elmer Demond writing with newcomer Slim da Reazon. The band’s bassist, Dustin Morgan (a.k.a. Yung Jinja), raps in there as well. Helping out, Alex Nester balances it together with a liquid voice born for R&B. Or any other genre he pleases. The gentlemen throw quick rhymes and smooth grooves over the bombastic compositions of bandleader R.W. Enoch, backed up loud yet organically by thirteen big band musicians.
The Project’s first single, “Shake Those Hips,” is first from their upcoming EP with the militaristic title of Love Glory Duty Death. The song starts off with rapid handclaps and jazzy horns. “Shake those hips! / Slow down, work it left to right / Come on, get loose tonight…” It’s a friendly and fun proposition, of course, the most fun I’ve heard since “Get Down Tonight” by KC & The Sunshine Band, or “Hey Ya” by Outkast, or even “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It’s a dance song with a high spirit that’s in good company.
The rappers trade verses between choruses, their rhymes cushioned between effervescent brass notes. And what’s hip-hop without a little sauciness? “I can be your addiction and your intervention at the same time…In the bedroom, the beast I am / the beast you are / Come get the pleasures of a superstar…”
Well, there you go. There’s pleasures to be had all over. The song’s bridge contains the reverbed refrain, “I said, ‘Stop!’ / Make your body rock / Let me feel it like an aftershock…”
By the end of the song, we’re all feeling it.
Love Glory Duty Death is expected to be released in its entirety later this year.
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Please click the IMAGE BELOW to hear the new single “Shake Those Hips” by The Urban Renewal Project