Wotts is a hip-hop group based in Ottawa, Ontario, that merges old school rap with the new. On their debut and Spartan EP, a, most of the backbone of the music is provided by beatboxing. However, the disc is split between the beatboxing of the first three tracks and more soulful female vocals on the final two cuts that recalls some of the work by A Tribe Called Quest. That reliance on beats rather than samples brings wotts to the forefront of experimental rap being produced today. Indeed, the style and sound seems as though it could have emanated from the hip-hop scene of New York, and should quiet any naysayers of beatboxing who only remember it from Fat Boys records. It’s certainly novel and fresh, and the minimalism actually works as this allows one to focus on the lyrical conceits.
Just like the latest LP from fellow rappers Buck N’ Nice, who also come from Ottawa, the bulk of a is about young people stuck in low paying and dead-end jobs trying to make it on their own terms, which makes the EP relevant and crucial. “Got a job, but I gotta win the lottery / Pull a robbery / Or get in on a Ponzi scheme,” raps the group on final track “tryna find a balance”. “Yeah, I’m ballin’ on a budget / And you I know I love it / Work for next to nothing / And I’m feeling hungry / Can’t get a lovin’ chick with no money,” goes the refrain of first track “ballin’”. Thus, the pursuit of money and happiness is the theme of a, giving the EP a stamp of consistency in its premise. Basically, this is a short album that I’d personally love to get into the hands of HR departments and managers, as it speaks to the disillusionment and frustrations of young people today. More than that, though, a is solid from start to finish, making this 17 minute EP a necessary statement to hear. The EP is perfect for anyone who wants to hear the style of ‘80s rap mixed with the thematic concerns of the present, and makes one salivate at the prospect of a full-length.