Artist: Science FictionTitle: Walls Don’t ExistRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Instrumental hip-hop has made a triumphant resurgence in the last year. Names like DJ Shadow, RJD2, and Djinji Brown are getting recognition as more than producers. With drums, keys, and the most obscure of samples, a producer can make the music speak for itself. Science Fiction hasn’t been producing long and his debut album Walls Don’t Exist on the budding Third Earth Music label bears a bold freshness that makes his rawness an asset rather than an impediment. Born and raised in Nigeria, Science Fiction began his craft by making bedroom remixes of artists ranging from Nas to Bjork. He now hopes to bring his brand of hip-hop to a wider audience.
Walls Don’t Exist plays at a quicker pace than most instrumental albums. Some tracks, such as the frenetic “Ever After”, are worthy of spins at rave parties and places hip-hop rarely finds itself. Still, this record belongs in the hip-hop genre. Science Fiction integrates the drums found on hip-hop’s greatest albums with string and key arrangements that sound so smooth, one would think they’re original.
Like any first-rate album, Walls Don’t Exist has a well-organized theme. Unlike other records with as many BPM’s, this album is very melancholic. The vocal samples, which dare to go against the overdone blues croon, are innovative. It is at these points that Science Fiction’s influences, which include Radiohead and Nirvana, become apparent. One of stand out works on the album is the track, “The Sunshine”, which uses a hypnotic bassline alongside high hats and distorted vocals. This production is reminiscent of Dan Tha Automator and Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s Deltron 3030 album in many ways.
This album is a step outside the box for a lot of listeners. Still, Science Fiction finds an uninhabited area where hip-hop, electronica, and everything else can play off of each other with stability and respectability. After all, Third Earth seems to be taking the biggest risks in hip-hop at the moment, namely Jean Grae and the Juggaknots, and with this latest release continue to do so successfully.