[5 December 2011]
Given the mainstream prevalence of backpack rap, Rawse-style floss rap, and the hardcore gangster leanings of up-and-comers like Freddie Gibbs, there is a serious need for the kind of back-to-basics hip-hop provided by Canadian collective Backburner. A collective in the truest sense, where no individual outshines or out-publicizes the rest of the group (see: Tyler, The Creator), Backburner consists of a phalanx of rappers, producers, and DJs who have helped define the sound of underground Canadian hip-hop between Toronto and Halifax. The newest collective collection, Heatwave, is the perfect album for fans of crate-digging samples, dj cuts, and classic hip-hop storytelling. Existing somewhere in the space between Atmosphere and Jurassic 5, Backburner’s dozen or more contributors provide feel-good atmosphere and effortless vocal and lyrical calisthenics that reward multiple listens (“Wack-free, not attached to crack contractually/just stackin’ up the factory, laughin’ at rappers’ cavities/holes in their heads, clueless beyond reality/sayin’ nothing uuuuuhhh like a zombie Master P”). Especially good are tracks like “Lifers” and “Show Of Hands”, where nimble wordplay and deft hands at the turntable combine to create near-perfect old school hip-hop gems.