Review Summary: From wobwob to pop n' lock, if you're looking for it, Two Fingers have it.
I’ve been waiting on Two Fingers for a long time now. Well, not Two Fingers the record, or even Two Fingers the band. More like Two Fingers the sound. See, while hip hop has been busy suffering a very public death and with electronic music creeping its way ever deeper into the mainstream (with some disastrous results), there hasn’t really been a record that’s set itself down in the middle of the whole fray to claim crown over it all. Spank Rock’s Yoyoyoyoyo
was perhaps the closest thing to do it back in 2007, but it was just too quirky to embraced by anyone who actually mattered. So when it turned out that IDM maestro Amon Tobin was going to team up with Joe “Doubleclick” Chapman to drop a record that embraced the dark production of UK Drum N’ Bass along with everyone’s favorite Dubstep stylings and dress it down with a generous serving of Hip Hop, I got a little bit excited. And then I heard Two Fingers would be released on the genre bending Planet Mu label, which, with acts like Boxcutter, Venetian Snares and Benga on it’s roster, has been pushing the boundaries of electronic music since forever, I got really, really excited.
And then I listened to it. Simply put, Two Fingers
is pretty much everything that anyone with an interest in clubtronica has been waiting for. It’s the sound of the logical progression of where the dubstep influence in electronic music was always headed to, sitting somewhere in between the glitchy eclectic of Tobin’s musical world and the heavy urban grime and wobwob sounds of The Virus Syndicate. From the ocean deep sub bass drops of “Better Get That” to tension racked instrumental of “Keman Rhythm”, Two Fingers effortlessly blend in the darkness of British electronica with the island’s embrace of more conventional hip hop stylings. In fact it’s almost easy to imagine where each producer left his mark, Tobin providing his trademark blend of eclectic sounds and experimental blips and bloops, and Doubleclick dropping in with some of the more conventional heavy hip hop orientated beats. And the result, well, is a blend of an album which would be just as happy on the dance floor of underground clubs as it would be in the dungeons of IDM fans the world over. And the unexpected is certainly there too, with “Jewels and Gems” incorporating twinkling eastern melodies around its complex rhythmic patterns, while “Bad Girl” embraces a more groove orientated, Latin RnB style that’s made perfectly for back room Miami summer nights.
Still, as focused as everyone is on the beats here, Two Fingers
is as much a hip hop album as it is an electronic one, with MC Sway trying to claim his own place in the pantheon of rhyme gods in “Two Fingers”, rapping: ’cause they know, when I do a show/It’s Tupac, Deathrow for the punks/all eyes on me/And I’m trying to reach Dizzee heights/with the industry heights/and people forgetting I’m a bad boy.
Of course it’s all very well for Sway to compare himself to Tupac and Dizzee, but the fact of the matter is that all Dizzee had to do was write ‘He’s just a rascal/A Dizzee Rascal’
to blow everyone’s minds… but with Sway telling everyone outright that he’s a "bad boy", honestly just don’t quite cut it to the same effect. And with the big name of Tobin on the decks, Sway’s lyrical swagger was always really destined to occupy the second slot of interest anyway. Still, Sway’s presence weighs heavily on the Two Fingers project, with his distinctly British rapping style marking songs with his own brand of gangStar that just… works. Contributions from the fairer sexes in the form Ms Jade and Ce’Cile still leave Two Fingers’ aggressive image intact as well, channeling the angry sex laced hostility of Missy Elliott and lil’ Kim all in one.
So really, by lying on the crossroads of music, Two Fingers have managed to string together with ease the differing lines of music rumbling across the scenes which they champion - fans of electronica will find a veritable heaven in the assortment and slickness of Tobin’s and Doubleclick’s production, while hip hop homeboys no doubt will happy to find themselves another album to pop n’ lock to, with the added benefit of being, y’know, good. While Two Fingers
isn’t the start of something new, it’s the climax of a movement that we’ve been waiting on for a long, long time - and dayum is it good.