Review Summary: Channeling Detroit, jazz, and an old record crate, A Day Off is decidedly European and definitely dope.
It might sound completely odd, but it’s nonetheless true; Europe craves hip-hop. While Black Milk has barely even reached notable levels of local rapport, incredibly, his shows sell out across the Atlantic. When a young generation is obviously this absorbed with a new popular trend, it’s a perfect time for the local scene to get involved – Snowgoons’ Black Snow
and Dela’s Changes Of Atmosphere
made a statement in 2008. Ranging from dark and industrial to light and jazzy, respectively, both releases proved that Europe can mimic American production styles. Dutch MC Pax and producer Pry go beyond this conception, realizing a futuristic hip-hop vision while completely taking this reviewer by surprise.
Name a few European MCs... now, exclude the British ones (the cultured American hipster might have been thinking, “The Streets, duh”). Done trying yet? Well, MC Solaar is a fairly international phenomenon that’s easily overlooked – which isn’t too hard, as most Commonwealth derived nations speak English, not French. The lyrical half of the Pax & Pry duo, Pax, deserves notoriety of this sort; a non-native English speaker, he (surprisingly and absolutely) kills the mic on A Day Off
. A heavily American influenced tone permeates his style – one could easily confuse the abstract musings on the short “Semi-Awake State” for a distant cousin of Royce da 5’9” or half-brother of Aesop Rock, whereas the bouncy follow-up “Wake Up” hypothesizes the bastard child of Andre Benjamin and Slug. In short, Pax has his own unique style, drawing upon available raw elements and melody like a Dutch Captain Planet of rap.
Pry, maker of fine beats, comprises the other half of A Day Off
, the half that truly separates the release from the contemporary median. The Fantastic Planet
-esque noise and 70s funk bass of “Theories” is the backbone to a hi-hat beat and melodic Pax chorus – a perfect precursor to eastern-influenced “Dirty it Up Some”. These beats channel the US’s most progressive and more; laced with an admirable appreciation for jazz, a decidedly European electronic component infiltrates the compositions… in a very good way. The highlight here is “Love Shi
t (Take it High)”, with no hesitation. Epic, funky, and hard, this is easily one of the best tracks of 2009 – Pry’s beats and high-flying synths blend seamlessly into a round-style vocal chorus, setting up a perfect source of ammunition for a Pax assault. Album namesake “A Day Off” provides a fitting sense of closure with a smooth, jazz-laden beat; the xylophone solo is a treat, a captivating, yet quiet ending.
While the Netherlands may not be the best market for forward-thinking hip-hop, it’s probably as good of a place as any. With impressive chemistry and fantastic ideas, Pax & Pry bear the torch of 21st century hip-hop well; give them another couple years and they’ll be a real part of the Dilla-Madlib-Black Milk pantheon. The best part? A Day Off
is offered as a free download at their website, [url]http://www.paxandpry.com[/url]. Do yourself a favor, before you go cruising downtown after work… cop this and get it into your transportation device in any way possible – even then, after Friday passes, you’ll still have a day off.