As the UK hip-hop parade (Ms. Dynamite, The Streets, Artful Dodger, etcetera) waltzes its merry way onto US shores, a question arises: when the fuck did the Brits learn to rap? While they've cornered the market on every other genre known to man, hip-hop has always been a decidedly American undertaking -- the UK gives us Radiohead and the Smiths for Public Enemy, Outkast and two MCs to be named later. Now, at the dawn of a new millennium, the British are once again coming -- only this time they're brandishing samplers, jacked-up beats and shit-hot raps as opposed to muskets, taxes and spotty red coats.
A virtual overnight sensation in their native Britain, London-based duo Audio Bullys are poised to claim a spot in the UK's big beat aristocracy. Their spangly debut is a strident fusion of hard house, '80s ska, dirty garage soul and jiggy dub so mindlessly infectious you'll be sporting old-school sneakers and gold medallions the size of dinner plates before you know it. They waste little time skinning up and chuffing the big beat bible; "Snake" twinkles its way into a spine-snapping break and tawdry electro squelches, the floor-crushing beats and million-syllables-a-minute rhymes of "100 Million" smack the teeth right outta yo mouth, and the broken-down Ibiza beats of "Way Too Long" make Basement Jaxx sound like a bunch of haxx.
In the Audio Bullys' world, it's not so all-fired important where you're from, but rather where you're at; Franks and Dinsdale are equal-opportunity hedonists, dishing out riotous slabs of sleaze-funk ("Real Life"), snarky elektro drivel ("The Tyson Shuffle") and thug-sensitive rounds of serpentine house ("Veteran") for everyone from monosyllabic club headz and E'd-up rave-monkeys to flabby construction workers and cantankerous housewives -- there's something for everyone in Tom 'n' Simon's spliff-blown bag of tricks. Even if their big 'n' bashy brand of party-happy tech-hop gets a bit familiar by album's end, it's destined to be a staple of 2003's party mixes.
It probably won't be long until gaggles of beered-up frat louts and sorority hussies are singing the praises of Ego War -- and rightly so. This one's too damn good for the underground army to keep to itself.