After the success of Hilltop's 4th album, The Calling
, The Hard Road
is probably the most important album to be released by an Australian Hip Hop group. This album has to power to either capitalize on their previous releases success, making Aussie Hip Hop a force modern music, or it could prove it to be somewhat of a fad.
Now, you might ask how Hilltop Hoods have managed to justify the albums name? How many "Hard Road's" could a group with a Gold CD to their name have had to walk? Well, at present, not many, but prior to their commercial success they did have a few troubles. Most of which are mentioned in the albums lyrical content, but don't honestly think they've been through anything too serious.
For the remainder of this review, I will probably refer to The Calling
a lot. Why? because it's the obvious benchmark when it comes to Australian Hip Hop releases. The Hard Road
is certainly worthy of it's place as a successor, but unfortunately I don't think it reaches the level's that it's predecessor did.
The title of the albums first track, Recapturing The Vibe
, is an indication of what Hilltop Hoods wanted to do with this album. They came within inches of this goal, but unfortunately the albums 15th track, Captured Vibe
, comes a little prematurely. Actually that's probably they wrong way to put it. It all depends on what your 'vibe' is really. I have no doubt that those listeners looking for something to throw in the player at a backyard party will dig The Hard Road
, as it holds plenty of "bangin' beats" for people to get down to.
Another reason I say this is due to the increased catchiness of the album's choruses. Those familiar with their previous works will know that the majority of their songs are memorable mostly for the verses, whereas The Hard Road
has those choruses that a bound to get stuck in your head. It's not a huge difference, but it's something I noticed.
DJ Debris, accompanied by Suffa, is responsible for the majority of the beats heard on the album, and I must say, he has done quite a good job. His beats a generally upbeat, catchy, and well produced. A couple seem influenced by other genres, with the best examples of this being What A Great Night
which sounds kind of Rock-ish, and Conversations From A Speakeasy
, which shows a couple of nice Jazzy touches. Hell, he even sampled the funky bass line for Clown Prince
from a 70's porno film.
As with any Hip Hop release, the vocals are the albums main focus, and both Pressure & Suffa have delivered. I'd always rated Pressure as the better of the duo, but with this release Suffa has improved his deliveries, and I now rate them as equals. This however, may be result of no really
outstanding singular performances though, as Illusionary Lines
was on The Calling
. There is also a number of guest appearances, most of which are from fellow Aussie Hip Hop artists (Murph, Pegz, Drapht + more), with a few International Rappers thrown in for good mix (MC Omni, Braintax and Mystro).
Lyrically, everything is pretty solid. Half of the tracks subject matter makes reference to the 10 years or so that Hilltop Hoods were a group before they got any recognition. The half of the album has that whole BBQ and Beers theme that is associated with Aussie Hip Hop, so it's a nice mix of seriousness and fun. Unfortunately, it's kind of lacking when it comes to some of the brilliant one-liners, which I was expecting after hearing The Calling
. And when it comes to lyrics, the Australian rappers definitely outshine the International guys, for the record.
- Enjoyable, catchy tunes.
- Slick beats
- Great vocals
- Accessibility. It might take some time getting used to the Australian Accents
- Failure to recapture some of the better elements heard on The Calling
Overall, Hilltop Hoods have released another awesome. Like all the other Aussie Hip Hop albums I've heard, it takes a couple of listens to grow on you, but it's well worth it. The Hard Road
actually made it's debut on the Australian charts, which a feat no other Aussie Hip Hop album has managed to achieve. I won't say that Hilltop Hoods have managed to recapture the vibe created by The Calling
, but have instead created an entirely new one with The Hard Road
: Obese Records
: April 6th, 2006
: DJ Debris