Truth be told, Now…, the new LP from Oxford rising star, Elliot Fresh, is one of the most curious albums that I’ve heard in a while – and this from a fan of Ariel Pink. It’s hard to decide how I feel about it, since it seems to be one great contradiction; it’s a hip-hop album by a university-educated Oxford man, with references to grime and early 90s alternative hip hop, complete with songs like ‘Working Class Blues’ followed by songs about Oxford and university. It’s a weird mix, but one that nevertheless works – the contrast meshes well to make a pretty decent album.
Laid back hooks vaguely reminiscent of the Pharcyde give room for Elliot Fresh’s laid-back rhyming to breathe, in tracks such as ‘Born Into The Galaxy’ and ‘Respect the Architects’. This switches to Common-esque crackly beats and samples in some tracks, for example ‘We’re Wishing’ – and the combination works well. There are some quality lyrics floating around as well, ranging from great rhymes – “16/ seeing Run-DMC at Reading Festival/where being a junkie is socially acceptable” – to mishaps – “I tried to piss at the sun/wind blew the piss in my face/ now I stink of my rain” ; all of which brought a smile to my face.
However, despite good mixing and Fresh’s great technique, I wasn’t convinced exactly by some tracks such as ‘The Jazz Mag Shuffle’ and ‘Delicate Fingertips’, the effect being a gross-out of sex, porn and tossing off (by the M6 toll). Perhaps this was all part of Elliot Fresh’s ironic rapping style, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. Certainly, tongue-in-cheek is the way to describe Fresh, who likes to rap about finding fossils on the beach in Devon and whose Facebook page describes his style as ‘hipaisleyhop.’
Otherwise, this is a top album, but certainly not for everyone; recommended for loosening up on mellow afternoons in student digs, ideally whilst rolling a cigarette.
Released on 11th June 2012 by IllGotIt Records