Review Summary: Combining hip hop with other genres is not an easy thing, but on "More Sad Songs" Kid Lab Rat does an excellent job of it.
Many musicians have serious problems when they want to meddle with ‘genre-bending.’ You just don’t pick up a piece of a pop melody, add some crunching guitars, and a dancing beat, and hope such a concoction will work just because all three things sounded interesting by itself. To make any such combination work you need at least a modicum of talent, some serious knowledge about the genres you are trying to combine to be able to make something sound like just a slap-happy concoction and more like an interesting combination that works.
So here comes Melbourne, Australia artist Dylan James, aka Kid Lab Rat, with his latest album More Sad Songs, trying to answer the question how can you combine some grunge/heavy metal, with indie melody and quite a bit of hip hop and make it sound like something that actually belongs with each other. Oh, and no samples.
Of course, theoretically, anything goes, but you have to make it work. Luckily, Kid Lab Rat does!
How? Well, on the evidence of this album, for starters. James has got that melodic bone somewhere in him (“Holding On Ft. Emily Wurramara”), knows what a good guitar riff should sound like and where to fit it in (“Behind the Enemy Lines”), and certainly can do a solid rap (“Gone Away,’ “Just Like You Said”).
But beside something you can attribute to personal talent, he had a crack at working around musical genres, as he did his share of alt-rock gigs around Manchester before going back to Melbourne to devote more time to hip hop. Still, he hasn’t forgotten his previous musical background, nor has he abandoned it, as he, besides Ice Cube obviously still has his ears open to bands like Motorpsycho and INXS.
But the key to More Sad Songs is that ii all somehow gels and sounds like it naturally belongs together, possibly one of the hardest things to achieve with any combination of genres.