All hip hop producers could learn something from this release. One look at the cover and you’re not sure what to expect. One listen through the album and you’re not quite sure what you just heard. Mandrake Mechanism bring a stellar hip hop album to the table, drawing influences from across the musical spectrum.
It’s always a pleasant surprise to hear a hip hop group not relying on the same beat to carry each song. With hip hop producers becoming increasingly more digitally inclined, originality begins to take a backseat to the same humdrum beats we’ve all heard again and again. However, Mandrake Mechanism and their Monetary Artforms EP do a spectacular job of shining their own unique light on hip hop, both in terms of “beats” and otherwise.
I hesitate to use the term “beats” in this context, as Mandrake Mechanism are in the rare breed of hip hop acts that use actual instruments. This is what allows them to create the wide array of sounds they achieve, from the upbeat funk of “Blind Bluff” to the hard rock feel of “El Gato”, and even going as far as to flirt with jazz fusion on “Hate my Job”. It all goes to show how tightly this band functions as a unit. They’re able to avoid falling into the trap of having each song follow the same pattern, which creates an enjoyable listen through all eight tracks.
The rhymes are undoubtedly witty (especially on the track “Tires”), and each song is pretty out there in terms of subject matter. At times the lyrics get oddly specific, almost creating a "we’ve all been there” vibe, but for the most part the rhymes have an almost stream of conscience flow about them. The lyrics get pretty ridiculous right out of the gate, but I think hip hop is at its best when it’s not taken as seriously as it could be. (I couldn’t help thinking of The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill while listening to this.)
MonetaryArtforms is a delightfully fun piece of hip hop, and here’s to hoping that Mandrake Mechanism keeps at it to charm us all with even more lyrical witticisms and clever musicality to back them up.