Fight with Tools



by GnarlyShillelagh EMERITUS
September 26th, 2009 | 42 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fight With Tools is a "rare fish swimming in the sea of mediocrity that is present day Hip-Hop."

If you’ve been even slightly interested in the current rap scene sometime within the last few years, you’ve heard Nas’ famous words: “Hip hop is dead”. But even before the controversial rapper titled his eighth album “Hip Hop is Dead”, most of the rap world who hadn’t been brainwashed by the glamtastic bull that was the Soulja Boy and anything 50 Cent put out knew that Hip-Hop was on the decline, and that nothing anyone could put out would ever truly be “Illmatic” in any sense of the word. And they were right.

We all know that the easiest way to make money in the Hip-Hop industry is to auto-tune some lines about the woman you boned last night over a Scott Storch beat, or to have a horrendous voice and make the next electric slide, but in my humble opinion, that’s not the key to widespread respect amongst the music community. Ask anyone you know if they have respect for Soulja Boy, and they’ll probably respond “no”, but say that they really want to kiss him through the phone. As far as I’m concerned, very little music in the mainstream has any artistic merit, and is simply popular because it’s catchy. There’s no respect in a lack of artistic music, and therefore to gain respect you have to go back to the roots of the system. In this case, it’s Hip-Hop, not mainstream rap. How do you stand out"

Enter Flobots. The Denver septet took Indie, splashed in elements of jazz, and laid down some raps, and called it music. The re-release of their 2007 album “Fight With Tools” brought about a change to the scene. Instead of catchy beats, they got a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist. Oh, and did I mention they got a violist and trumpet player" They combined their backdrop indie rock and their political knowledge to produce a fresh take on hip-hop with lyrics much deeper than how many bricks they sold to Fif.

Though their name only became recognizable outside of Denver radio stations after the commercial success of “Handlebars”, the egocentric satire of modern day world leaders, “Fight With Tools” is a well-balanced album with much to offer. From start to finish, the album is a unit, and the two vocalists, Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit, have such synergy (as exemplified by their beautiful flow in “The Rhythm Method (Move!)”) that it’s difficult to criticize the rapping.

In terms of the content, there are quite a few stand-outs. No song on the album can truly be called a “filler” song, although there are songs that aren’t exactly up to spit when compared to the rest of the album. It all starts out with spoken word over a soft viola and war-drum like beat claiming that “there is a war going on for your mind”. Being cut off by a fuzzy radio connection, the intro flows flawlessly into the first true gem of the album: “Mayday!!!”. In what I would call the proggiest rap song in the history of hip-hop, “Mayday!!!” changes everything up at least four times; but it’s done so well that it’s tough to notice that everything is changing. With broken guitar over excellent viola and the trumpet sounding beautifully every so often, “Mayday!!!” is the best song to open the album with.

“Fight With Tools” starts where “Stand Up” leaves off, and with relatively laid back rapping over a beautiful bass line, is a definite download from the album. The very next song, “Handlebars”, opens and closes with the words “I can ride my bike with no handlebars”, and then goes through a three verse progression of all the things “I” can do. Beginning in a childish gloat of “Look at me, look at me /I can take apart the remote control… /I can tie a knot in a cherry stem”, over soft plucking of the viola, the song progresses into the powerful “I can end the planet in a holocaust” over the heaviest rock sound the band achieves on the album.

“Anne Braden” seems to be the problem song of the album. Personally, I’ve always liked the song, but as I listen to it more and more, I’ve come to agree (to an extent) with the opinion of the masses: that this song is the worst on the album. The flow on the song is often lacking, and it’s far too laid back to keep up with the rest of the album. The message that 5 tries to convey is too difficult to do properly on the song through the lyrics, and it doesn’t come off too well.

The album ends with “Rise”, the second single off the album, and for good reason. “Rise” tries to get mainstream and modern rock, and furthermore ends with a two minute chant of “Together we rise”. In the end though, “Rise” is nothing in comparison to some of the other songs on the album (See: every other song not named “Anne Braden”).

Overall, the album is a good effort by Flobots to change the hip-hop scene, and their fresh sound is welcomed, although at times their politically-savvy lyricism seems forced and is detrimental to the overall flow of the album (”Anne Braden”). Nevertheless, the album earns a solid 4/5, and is a rare fish swimming in the sea of mediocrity that is present day Hip-Hop.

Recent reviews by this author
Drake and Future What a Time to Be AliveT.I. Da' Nic
Raekwon Fly International Luxurious ArtRun the Jewels Run the Jewels 2
Logic Under PressureIceage Plowing into the Field of Love
user ratings (343)
other reviews of this album
IsItLuck? EMERITUS (3.5)
Flobots manage to create a beautiful and enticing indie/hip-hop album with an intelligent, political...

Guzzo10 (4)
Sometimes as a band, you get lucky on your first try, creating material that has been seen before, b...

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 26th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this review. Unfortunately, as I was writing it, I realized that I literally have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing… Please bear with me… Hopefully I’ll figure it all out soon and I’ll be able to write much better reviews. Tips are of course, appreciated.

September 26th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

Its a pretty good for a first review. You ramble too much about your hate for modern hiphop, while I

agree with you, it gets a little old reading about it.

You've inspired me to listen to this for the first time in awhile

September 26th 2009


Cut about 1/3 of the text -- there is a lot of rambling.

September 26th 2009


The first half of this review is pretty much unecessary. It contains no information/analysis regarding the album and is just a stream of consience based on your opinion of modern hip hop.

September 26th 2009


The first half of this review is pretty much unecessary. It contains no information/analysis regarding the album and is just a stream of consience based on your opinion of modern hip hop.


Flobots, ew.!

September 26th 2009


horrible album

September 27th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

fyi cut out the 2nd and 4th paragraph then clean up the rest a bit and your good

September 27th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Nice Review

But, IMO, tracks 7-11 (basically Handlebars to Rise) are kinda meh. Can't really get into them too much. But I love Flobots. They put on a hell of a live show.

September 27th 2009


Album Rating: 1.5


+ album is balls.

September 28th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

Sorry about the rambling guys. Didn't realize that until I posted it, haha. Dylan I took your advice and cut those two paragraphs out. Hopefully it'll be a little less tedious to read now.

May 24th 2010


these guys are huge here in colorado. viola player is hooooooooooot. saw em live two weeks ago. music is okay. bit too much of a more rap oriented ratm

July 28th 2010


there's a war going on for your mind

if you are thinking you are winning

what a line

August 2nd 2010


same thing is my favorite song by them. it just has a nice groove to it

August 8th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album ;) simply great stuff.

November 5th 2010


I love Handlebars, cuz it's some actually patriotic, uplifting, rap for once. I normally hate rap, but this isn't too bad.

November 6th 2010


lol these guys blow

January 12th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

great band. by far their best album. Its a good record, glad to see someone is trying to change the shitty hip hop scene...

January 12th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

great band. by far their best album. Its a good record, glad to see someone is trying to change the shitty hip hop scene...

September 22nd 2012


"hey you have flobots on your ipod"

"yeah i have their entire discog; they're my favorite band"

said no one ever

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Igor

August 28th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is awesome, it should get more credit.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy