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- Posted on Jun 29th 2009 12:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
To simply call Toronto-via-Winnipeg collective Grand Analog's music "hip-hop" is to miss the point entirely. Led by sometime-actor Odario Williams and featuring his DJ brother Ofield Williams, the group seems tailor-made for today's ADD-listening audience, effortlessly mixing the best of reggae, soul, rock, punk and hip-hop into a fun, upbeat sound.
Grand Analog's recently-released sophomore album, 'Metropolis Is Burning,' hones this crate-digging approach -- each track offers up a savvy mix of sounds that's akin to a DJ picking and choosing the best bits of music. So it's perhaps unsurprising to learn the Williams brothers' dad was a reggae DJ himself -- that sunny, laid-back influence is written all over key track 'Electric City,' which features a guest turn by like-minded London, Ont. rapper Shad.
Judging by the myriad genres at work on 'Electric City,' the band is clearly comprised of record collectors. While the reggae vibe takes center stage -- particularly the infectious patois-inflected "Music make the world go 'round" chorus -- the tune also offers up a solid old-school, head-nodding hip-hop beat and a tip of the hat to soul with its deep-groove clavinet intro.
Odario Williams' easygoing rapping style rides the song's funky rolling groove nicely and Shad proves an ideal collaborator. Thanks to his equally relaxed delivery, his guest verse drops seamlessly into the mix.
Odario has mentioned that the title of the track was inspired by reggae great Dub Toaster's signature phrase "I'll shock ya like electric!" as well as poet Michael Harper's ode to jazz legend John Coltrane, which features the term "electric city." When even a song's title alludes to such deep and diverse cultural touchstones, you know this is a band that's pretty deliberate about what they bring to their music.
While on the surface 'Electric City' might sound simply like a funky summer anthem, it also reveals more layers with each listen, providing a welcome introduction to an act that's playing around with styles and genres in an intelligent, invigorating way.