Mad EP: Bass.hed
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Having previously scored with the ambitious Madlands Trilogy, Mad EP (Matthew Peters) takes the total hip-hop plunge on Bass.hed with help from guest vocalists Shadow Huntaz, MC Equivalent, The Gutterbyrds, and Jahdah. Fourteen bass-heavy low-riders comprise Mad EP's fourth full-length, which also gets a considerable boost from Peters' cello playing on four cuts. The material is largely stripped to its bass-and-drum essence, allowing ample space for the MCs to serve up their head-spinning rhymes.

Thirty seconds into “Madvision,” a humongous backbeat, accompanied by plummeting bass throbs, roars into position, testifying to the heavy hip-hop road that lies ahead. “Bass.hed Revenge” offers up a tasty beat workout, while a slippery head-nodding groove ignites MC Equivalent's vocal turn in “Throw Your Towels”; The Gutterbyrds' flow is likewise intensified by dizzying boom-bap in “Down in the Gutter.” The slow and mournful cry of the cello acts as a contrast to hyperactive beatwork in “Menuet” while “Leaving Brooklyn” closes the fifty-five-minute album with a sampling of cello-laden trip-hop. It doesn't all work—“Pressure Cooker” is undone by a too-busy arrangement and the snarky snickering in the Mad EP remix of Puppetmastaz's “Clones” verges on annoying—but Bass.hed nonetheless registers as a largely solid foray into hip-hop music-making.

July 2008