For those of you who don’t know — and that’ll probably include most of you — Mechanical Cannibal is a bassline driven hip-hop group based out of Southampton founded by producer Tipps with emcee/vocalist Humble P.
This, their eponymous début EP, showcases a fresh new experimental sound which is essentially a fusion of two very different musical schools of thought: hip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass. However, Mechanical Cannibal is more than just the sum of its parts; indeed, the two genres which underpin this EP collide with synergistic effect and in turn create something quite unique from any other musical offering currently out there.
The drum ‘n’ bass themes in this EP are also offset by dubstep influences, and punctuated by near-ambient vocal samples as well as syncopated dance rhythms, but all remain firmly set in the foundations of hip-hop. The result is an enduring mix of eclectic, hard-hitting beats, intricately crafted, subconcious-plumbing verses and lyrics that delve deep into the psychodynamics of the human condition in this modern-day Orwellian-style dystopia.
The first track ‘Artificial’ is a damning appraisal of modern-day consumer culture and how material things fuel our distraction from reality. To the duo’s credit, they’ve opted for a more satirical approach on this one — lampooning, among other things, the scourge of microwave meals — rather than embarking on the sort of depressingly trite anti-status-quo rant that you’ll have no doubt heard countless times before in hip-hop lyrics. To texturise its satirical narratives, the EP is also full of musical counterpoints and subtleties, with ‘Infra-Red Light District‘ interposed by the sort of vocal samples that could have you slipping off into a weightless drift, until that is, they are cleverly offset by a heavy bass thumping. The musical elements are carefully thought out as tracks tend to proceed in cumulative fashion, such as ‘Fission Chips’ with its riveting futuristic motifs and a syncopated wobble bass around which successive layers are added. The EP is a rich and iridescent soundscape through which Humble P carries us with his compellingly spun narratives.
With its complex interweaving basslines and its soupçons of dark, chuggy dubstep overarched by some sublime creative lyricism, Mechanical Cannibal’s début EP has a very unique and exciting crossover appeal. It might not be to everyone’s taste, nor will it necessarily appeal to every fan of hip-hop or DnB; however, what is is certain is that this is a well-conceived twenty-first-century concept that challenges genre conventions in a positive way.