Animal Farm - Culture Shock
Animal Farm is a group out of Portland. The city may not be on many people’s radar as a big hip hop town, but it actually has a thriving scene. It is home to acts such as Lifesavas, Mic Crenshaw, Cool Nutz, and Ohmega Watts. Animal Farm released their first album in 2008, but remain largely unknown to a national audience. With an excellent sophomore effort featuring guest spots from Talib Kweli, Abstract Rude, Rob Swift, and DJ Wicked, I have a feeling they are going to enter the lexicon of hip hop fans everywhere.
Members Hanif Wondir, Fury, Serge Severe, Gen.Erik, and DJ Wels have established a great chemistry that is readily apparent on Culture Shock. Nobody dominates a track, and verses are traded freely. It’s a great situation where all the emcees are on the same page, and they actually enjoy sharing in the experience of making music together. There is playfulness to their rhymes, with a definite old-school influence to their flows, easily making them contemporaries of other groups like Ugly Duckling or People Under the Stairs. There is definitely a rebellion against pop rap on this record, as evidenced by songs like, “DIY,” “Pop Music,” and “Music for Idiots.” There is also concern for other aspects of hip hop culture, such as violence and gender politics.
Gen.Erik handled the production for the entirety of the album, and provided plenty of funky beats and soul samples for everybody to rhyme over. I’ve always held that some of the best music is that which will make you think and dance at the same time, and that’s what we’ve got here. Animal Farm has given us a great sophomore effort in Culture Shock. Hopefully they’ll start getting the recognition they deserve.