Hip hop time.

Hilltop Hoods- “Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom”

Drinking from the Sun, 2012

The Australian hip hop kings have returned in a big way, releasing this taster of their upcoming album. Pressured by their fans via Facebook to release it, Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom has already received significant airplay, and is bound (along with the forthcoming album) to become one of the big tracks of 2012.

Produced by Suffa, a member of the outfit, the song cements these guys as master craftsmen of the modern hip hop song. The backing is decent, all electronic beats, of course, but they actually took the time to put some chordal accompaniment in there! They may be hidden by stock standard drum backing, but they are there…I promise.

But none of that really matters here anyway, what’s really on show is the Hoods’ ability to create melodic lines through their own brand of harmonies. Half singing, half talking, the opening bars move quickly, the line rising and falling over sustained, wavering notes, drums and some sirens. The line is even, and it doesn’t stop, but skates down low and speeds up- it’s just daring you to bob your head, really.

Now this is where hip hop songs usually die a thousand deaths- the verse. We’re always served up with someone rapping at a snails pace over repetitive beats (well…I suppose that’s what hip hop is supposed to be about….), but not here. The Hoods chase away any boredom by throwing the backing into double time every now and then, so the verse gains momentum under the solid lyrics of Pressure:

“Indeed a breed of pedigree beast unleashing speech telepathy/ Here to bleed the industry of its diseased and evil effigy/ Demons, thieving, greed and revelry, we’re in need and seeking remedy”

I mean, c’mon….what’s not to love?

The chorus is a repeat of the intro, slowing the song down and bringing back the catchy hook. Sirens whirl above, adding to the drama. The verse fades into the chorus naturally, it isn’t signposted and doesn’t sound like they recorded two songs separately and them mashed them together. It’s a well constructed hip hop song! HURRAH!

This is an incredibly strong single, in every capacity- it’s catchy, melodic and the lyrics have got more intelligence than a wooden door- which is the usual benchmark these days for rappers.

As Suffa raps in the second verse:

“We the best, no Khaled/ We the best like Ali, Muhammad”

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