Engaging hip-hop from San Francisco
San Francisco collective Felonious offers a diverse set of sounds on its fourth CD Live City. Incorporating multiple emcees and live musicians, Felonious strives to carve a distinctive niche for itself, with a fair degree of success. It helps that the beats and bass grooves are heavy throughout. Lead track “Soul Man” features wah-wah pedal and horn punctuation as emcees spit hilarious lines like “It’s person and place, I’m doing the damn thing/I’m pulling it off, you’re pulling a hamstring.” The record sags a bit after this promising start, but the second half of the set picks things up again. “Misunderstood” is built around erratic rhythms and an old Animals chorus, while “R2D3” lays spitfire rhymes over funk-tastic keyboards before “Pop” slows things to a looser, laid-back, but still energetic, vibe. Most intriguing from a lyrical standpoint is “Heat,” with its dystopian visions of environmental and climactic apocalypse. Here as elsewhere, Felonious strives to push back the boundaries of hip-hop just a little bit more.