Italian heavyweight rapper Mondo Marcio brings to the table one of his most unusual and charming concoctions with Nella bocca della tigre, an album that sees him exchanging experience and song with his muse Mina, the legendary Italian songstress. In the ‘60s, Mina rivalled other notable European gamines like Francoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan, who altogether defined an era of classy, bedroom pop for comfortable homebound dreamers. Mina’s pipes were decidedly grittier than her contemporaries and she commanded the room with unabashed sex appeal and a confidence that infused Italian audiences with pride. So it’s no wonder that Marcio, a rapper of audacious bravado, gravitated toward the singer’s brazen, womanly poise for his sixth studio release. The rapper splices Mina’s vocals into the grooves of his knuckled-down hip-hop, her voice the ghostly presence in the centre of a tuneful, boisterous racket. Marcio is smart enough not to allow the interpolations to become merely gimmicks, so often Mina’s voice is woven into the mix in such a way to provide colour and balance to the surrounding braggadocio. It’s a rather nifty idea that often works wonderfully; you can hear both the germinating seed of inspiration and its full-bloom on numbers like “Un Bacio? (Troppo Poco)”, a ‘60s tropic-pop groove blaring from an urban ghetto, and “La Fiera della Vanità”, a bluesy-vamp which has Marcio wrapping a chocolate rhyme around Mina’s caramel vocal in true confectionery-pop fashion. Elsewhere, the rapper litters his urban landscapes with old-school hip-hop, Motown blues and Italian pop, leaving the world of bling for the land of amore mio.
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