One Self is DJ Vadim (Russia/UK), Yarah Bravo (Sweden/Brazil) and Blu Rum 13 (US) — a veritable United Nations of funky hip hop. So what happens when three independent forces join for a common project? If this LP is anything to go by, the answer is a record you just love to love
It seems that DJ Vadim has fixed most of his broken beats, mending them with dub glue and soul solder. The tunes he throws down are immediately grabbing and form the perfect foil for the sweet honeyed tones of Yarah Bravo and the Sly stylings of Blu Rum 13. That they should all fit so well is little surprise as they have been long term collaborators but perhaps the sense of being in a group has forced the kind of cohesiveness rarely found in left-field hip hop.
Some of the tracks are so smooth in fact that you could imagine them coming from much more mainstream acts like Black Eyed Peas (try ‘Unfamiliar Places’ or the excellent single ‘Bluebird’). There is a risk then that some Ninja fans will be wary of this record but that would be a shame as it has plenty of the intelligent lyrics, wicked samples and groovy beats that you would expect from this label. It is also a much harder trick to pull off a broad range of music from broken to catchy.
Compare and contrast for example ‘Fear the Labour’, ‘SD2’ and ‘Be Your Own’. Opening with what sounds like an oud, then sparse beats form the backdrop to Blu Rum 13’s subversive ode to the working person, ‘Fear the labour’ is delivered with his trademark funky bass-heavy voice.
‘SD2’ features an Asian vocal sample, itself a recurrent theme on this LP, cut down and creepy beats, wandering squelch, Hammond organ, scratching and a shedload of reverb – more usual Ninja territory for sure.
And finally, the very Sly and the Family Stone like ‘Be Your Own’. Sly-like in terms of vocal delivery and catchy but elliptical chorus line growled out at you, but updated with fast, clever hip hop rhymes and punchy beats.
Varied, fun and smart. This should be big and a sure-fire summer record, assuming of course we have a summer.
One Self’s Children of Possibility is released 30 June, 2005