[16 December 2009]
Russian-born producer-songwriter Alexei Jendayi and Jamaican-born MC Kowboy Kom first caught my attention with The Vodka & Rum Mixtape. Not only was its title clever—it’s an obvious ode to their homelands—but the concept was intriguing. The duo paired up Kom’s rhymes with those of more famous rappers such as Kanye West and Wyclef Jean. What seemed tacky at first actually ended up working well and seamlessly.
There was, though, a very poppy/mainstream-reaching element that was evident in the duo’s music, and this will absolutely turn some listeners away. Those who aren’t looking for something with an upbeat vibe should look elsewhere. That’s not to say Fly Gypsy is outright “hip-pop” because both the music and lyrics are very much in tune with hip-hop’s roots. It’s more to the fact that Kom and Jendayi make extremely accessible songs, with almost every cut on Change for A Dollar being single worthy. In particular, there is the EP’s actual lead single “You”, which is an undeniably fun cut made for sunny days with a slight breeze.
One of Fly Gypsy’s most endearing qualities is that everything with a slight, superficial tone is delivered tongue-in-cheek. On “Get That Money”, Kom spits your prototypical money-hungry bars, but he’s not really promoting materialism—he’s pointing out its downsides. He does so in a way that’s both clever and invigorating. He never sounds bitter or out-of-touch. He’s simply a wise observer.
Hip-hop heads looking for something positive and uplifting that refrains from being corny should look no further than Fly Gypsy. While Kom’s rapping style might not be for everyone, you will certainly be listening to what he spits. The way he flows over Jendayi’s natural, organic production is something even the most serious head needs to hear. Put the cynical and/or superficial raps on pause and give Change for a Dollar a spin.