Sunday, 28 November 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: A_Rival - 8-Bit Pimp

If you leave aside the brilliant Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, video games and hip-hop don’t often go together. Now, as you’ve probably guessed from that introductory line – or if the title of the album wasn’t a big enough give away – 8-Bit Pimp from A_Rival combines the fields of Hip-Hop with the 8-Bit sounds of NES games. And do you know what? It actually works.

OK, so you’re going to have to be pretty clued up about video games in both their current and retro forms to truly appreciate A_Rivals’ rhymes but you can’t deny the Californian is a talented wordsmith. As you’d expect, the subjects covered throughout 8-Bit Pimp are based around video games and geek culture, and if you’re a gamer you’ll love a lot of the rhymes and references: I knew he had me hooked in the prelude to Show Me Girl in which A_Rival is trying and failing to impress a girl after mentioning video games. Let’s just say given my day job, it’s something that truly reached out to me (making it probably the first time Hip-Hop has directly reached out to me).

The whole concept may sound quite gimmicky, but music infused with sounds which wouldn’t sound out of place in Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda or Megaman actually sounds really good. In fact later tracks on the album, including Higher, with a more electro-house feel are really enhanced by the input of 8-Bit sounds. Imagine Pendulum but with much geekier influences and you’ll be about right when it comes to how some of the latter parts of 8-Bit Pimp sound.

A_Rival shows a true passion for video games and geek quirks and culture throughout 8-Bit Pimp and therefore it probably isn’t for everyone. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t know their Mario from their Luigi or their Sonic from their Knuckles then you’re not going to ‘get’ most of A_Rivals’ lyrics. However, if you’re into discovering strange new sounds, then 8-bit infused hip-hop comes highly recommended.

Essentially, if you’re the sort of person who enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, then you’ll love it.

Released 22/11/10 through bandcamp

(Originally written for Gobshout)

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