Olga, despite its missteps, is a great entry point for the rap neophyte.
Philly Moves, despite the American-sounding name, is a hip-hop duo with origins in Ottawa, Canada (homies represent!), but have since relocated to the Big Smoke (known as Toronto). Or maybe I should say the 416, considering we’re dealing with rap here. Well, whatever the locale, MC Tynan “Tragic” Phelan and producer Jonny “Rockwell” Desilva make some hypnotizing and soulful music that’s in part original music and in part samples. The group has slowly but surely moved on up in Canada’s hip-hop scene, and Olga follows an earlier LP and a smattering of EPs. It took a year to produce, and, generally, despite some lax production choices, it shows. The album actually opens with a shout-out to the duo’s fans in “Run”, which is a nice gesture and shows that Philly Moves are well-grounded in their approach. “Tragic” has a very fluid rhyming style, and there are some really great musical moments, such as the Philly soul-sounding “Stolen Cop Car”.
But those production choices sometimes illustrate a touch of amateurishness. “Weakday / Fool’s Gold” buries Tragic’s vocals in the mix and there’s some radio static that’s tacked onto the track. The trick doesn’t work well. That said, there are attention grabbing touches. “Good Chick Bad” features porno sounds of a woman reaching orgasm. Make no boners about it (pun intended), Philly Moves basically have getting laid and getting paid on their minds, which is essentially a rap cliché. Still, I love the fact that much of the record is incredibly soulful and takes inspiration from early ‘70s R&B records, which, in my mind, is an era that’s right up there amongst some of the best music ever made. Olga, despite its missteps, is a great entry point for the rap neophyte, and it’s great to hear a Canadian hip-hop outfit really doing something vaguely commercial with the genre without stooping to the guilty pleasures of a Maestro Fresh Wes. Philly Moves is a group making a splash, and, ultimately, you’ll want to spend the night with Olga. Pay in cash.