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Old 10-13-2008, 11:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hilltop Hoods - The Hard Road Restrung



Released by Obese Records in 2007

1 The Hard Road Restrung - 3:37
2 Stopping all Stations Restrung - 3:35
3 Conversations From a Speakeasy Restrung - 3:25
4 An Audience with the Devil Restrung - 3:34
5 Monsters Ball Restrung - 3:58
6 Breathe Restrung - 3:50
7 Another Great Intro - 0:18
8 What a Great Night Restrung - 3:08
9 Obese Lowlifes Restrung - 2:25
10 City of Light Restrung - 3:22
11 Clown Prince Restrung - 3:52
12 The Captured Vibe Restrung - 2:07
13 Recapturing the Vibe Restrung -3:14
14 Roll on Up - 3:49


Aussie hip hop is an odd genre, lacking the true cultural identity that is so present in America, it is a mash up of a multitude of influences wandering around with no place to call home, generally ignored by the mainstream.

Hilltop Hoods, consisting of MC's Suffa and Pressure and DJ Debris are one of the few acts to breakthrough and achieve large scale popularity with their last two albums original The Calling and The Hard Road and are generally considered the premier Aussie hip hop group. Although they do face a lot of criticism for gaining their popularity by adopting a much more Americanised style.

In 2007 Hilltop Hoods commenced on a commendably adventurous (or cynical money grabbing) exercise by re-recording The Hard Road with the backing of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the result, The Hard Road Restrung is probably their strongest album to date.

The lush orchestra music is what really makes this album great, and it's the first thing we hear with the title track kicking off with beautiful sinuous violins, the mood get shattered for an instant when they drop down to make room for the original hook, but thankfully return when the rapping kicks in. A fairly typical tale of dragging yourself out of poverty with music, but Suffa and Pressure trade verses with a decent flow.

The next track, Stopping All Stations, opens with more violins, lushly arranged and layered. A slower mournful track, the Hoods try their hand at storytelling, re-telling a train ride from three interwoven perspectives, it succeeds admirably in showing us some interesting and wholly believable characters, although the ending does feel a little forced.

Conversations from a Speakeasy picks the mood back up, with some bouncy trumpets (I think), but the music lacks the poignancy of the first two tracks. The lyrics follow the familiar theme of bravado and bragging, but happily they never take themselves seriously and pack in the punchlines, "As if it ain't tough enough to come up with a record/Just ask the Hoods really could Suffa from the Pressure/Get it? Nah!"

Audience With the Devil is an interesting track, the title is perfectly literal and lyrics are fairly interesting although the social commentary is about as non insightful as you can get. The upside of the track is that the dramatic orchestra production makes a return.

Monsters Ball is mixed bag, beginning with a fun and fairly pointed rant against the mainstream rap industry and some dense wordplay, "Don't get smart with me; I got a heart in me/Like Pharlap, and gone so far raps now a part of me." But eventually devolves back to pointless braggadocio without Speakeasy's sense of humour.

What a Great Night is a track I love, the production actually downplays the orchestra but behind the fuzzy beats it's still pumping away. A joyous track dedicated to getting pissed, they actually pack in some great lines, "Don't call me son of a bitch I'm the son of muso,/ And the sum of my problems is substance abuse so,/These long nights are the death of me/ But it's alright it's my legacy."

Clown Prince was the biggest single off the original album, and although it's a solid track it hasn't really benefited from the orchestra. With a pure hook sing along chorus and pop culture lyrics that don't seem to have any real theme it's infectious fun. The ending actually reverts to Monster's Ball esque bragging, but happily this time they're just taking the piss out of themselves, "Typical MC, my rhymes can't match the size of my ego."

The Captured Vibe is a great instrumental piece, with the surging orchestra building to a crescendo and then toppling down the other side. The only problem is that they repeat the trick immediately in "The Recaptured Vibe", which is a solid rap track made excellent by the lovely music, but I think they could have gone without the first instrumental.

The album ends with a completely new track, Roll on Up, but looking past the sampled hook it's only average, with lyrics detailing hip hop's rising profile.

Overall I'd say that The Hard Road Restrung is a great album, especially to use as a touchstone before exploring more Aussie hip hop. I'd probably give it
8/10.

Last edited by Fruitonica; 01-28-2009 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I like The Hilltop Hoods, I do prefer the Herd though.

Best song on this album for me is recapturing the vibe.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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They make me wanna vomit a little every time i hear them
bland thugish caricatures with nothing to say...and very poor mcing
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Lol, I was expecting that : )
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm really not a fan of hip-hop but I love what you said about how Aussie hip-hop is a mash-up of genres and influences with no real home. So true! I really respect the Hilltop Hoods and this album is great.
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