Portland, OR quartet Animal Farm pay homage to hip-hop’s golden era throughout their sophomore album, Culture Shock. Hanif Wondir, Fury, Serge Severe, and producer and MC Gen.Erik sample soulful old-school beats reminiscent of underground hip-hop greats like Jurassic 5, Blackalicious and Digable Planets.
The album’s strength comes from Gen.Erik’ s production on tracks like “Can’t Give Up” and “It’s Over.” It’s a challenge not to nod your head or dance to his beats. The ’90s hip-hop nostalgia of “Back in the Days,” featuring DJ Wicked, make this album perfect to play at any summer BBQ pool party.
Like many hip-hop albums, collaborations with other MCs and DJs are expected and Animal Farm does not disappoint. Talib Kweli’s presence on “Test of Time,” makes this track a favourite.
However, not all collaborations are perfect. While the chemistry between Abstract Rude and Animal Farm on “Music For Idiots” is great, the track ultimately falls flat. On it they bash commercial radio, mainstream magazines and record labels for being too selective, but the MCs fail to lay down a verse explaining why Animal Farm deserves the public’s attention and respect.
Although the quartet attempts to tackle hard-hitting topics, including issues facing lower and middle class Americans on tracks like “G.U.N.S. (Generation Under No Shield),” the song lacks the thought provoking and intelligent lyrics that other conscious rappers like Common spit so effortlessly.
While the quartet’s lyrical flow and production are no amateur feat, there is still room for this West Coast group to improve.