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Time Machine

Life Is Expensive

(Glow-in-the-Dark; US: 20 May 2008; UK: 19 May 2008)

When the debut album Slow Your Roll appeared in 2004, it saw emcees Jet Set Jay (Jaysonic), Biscuit (then Comel), and the consistent beatsmith Mekalek join the ranks of People Under the Stairs and Blackalicious as prime examples of artistically viable West Coast indie hip-hop. While their sophomore album witnesses a shift for Mekalek from old school lounge to more party centered beats, the group’s status as essential conscious L.A. rappers is cemented. Mekalek’s production sounds like a series of instant singles and the rhymes, which take the album title to heart, strike a perfect balance between social responsibility, druggy spirituality, and the emotional baggage of modern life. The closing “Survival Kit” sums up the concept nicely with lines about finding your own way over light acoustic guitar and floating pads that wisp away till the last minute, when a vicious drum beat kicks in. Life Is Expensive is progressive hip-hop at its finest.

Rating:

Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.


Tagged as: mekalek | time machine
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