Let me say right away that I liked the self-titled @Peace album. I did. It felt fresh, it was enjoyable; it caught me at the right time. And I still can’t make my mind up about Home Brew – is it possible that something can be important without actually being all that good? Yes, yes, it is possible. Look at Once Were Warriors? Shite book – poorly written, flimsy in so many ways, but is it one of the most important books to come from a New Zealander, to be released in New Zealand, to reflect New Zealand? Yes it is. Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind.
Much has been made of Tom Scott (Home Brew/@Peace) and his lyrics, his lyrical flow, his accent – the authenticity and the playfulness/irreverence.
Why I liked the full-length @Peace album is because it didn’t feel like any sort of gimmick. It was a nice throwback to some of what I had enjoyed about things like Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and such – an easy flow to it, good times. Something to say, but a nice vibe, musically, in support of the story-lyrics.
The Home Brew album was important – it is, to date, probably the most important Kiwi hip-hop album; maybe it was the most important Kiwi release of last year – but that (alone) doesn’t exactly make it good.
And between that and this “EP” (10 songs – pitched shrewdly as some sort of meta-pisstake with a Valentine’s Day release) it’s hard to feel the authenticity, the craft even – all I can wade through (and I doubt I can be bothered more than once or twice) is the gimmick. You know the craft/ing is there – but it doesn’t stick; doesn’t grab you. It’s all too cynically conceived, if you don’t get it then fuck you…it (apparently) didn’t want to be got by you. No, actually, fuck that!
Because you’ve decided something has a storyline – is a (gasp) “concept album/EP” does not instantly make it good or clever. It just means some labour has gone into the project. And too often that accent – a cruel joke now, not an easy flow at all, some smart-ass too-pleased-with-itself hick-hiccup – is starting to feel laboured.
Isn’t this just a dirt-road/grass-routes version of The Streets?
Yes, yes it is. Those first couple of Streets albums were important once upon a time too. Try listening to them now without cringing.
I want to like @Peace. But I’m not sure I can. For every track on Girl Songs that has a hook, has some craft, something approaching an effortless slickness, there’s some giant load of shit masquerading as art. There’s some privileged-background phoned-in-player wanting to appear street.
And it bores me. I’m just not convinced by it. I don’t believe it. So I can’t believe in it. Even if – to begin with at least – I want(ed) to.