Alan Moore can stop rolling in his grave nao.



This is a belated review of Eaters new album, Wives. If you don't know about Eaters (and fuck, you really should), then check out Weaponizer's interview with Laughing Gear before reading this review.

Taking up where their first full length album, Digest, left off, Wives is a triumphant return to straight-up beats, cuts, scratches and rhymes. By delivering up an album so firmly grounded in the aesthetics of hip-hop, Eaters have actually departed from their Incorporeal cronies Penpushers' territory. Whereas Penpushers last album (Poltergeeks) was a lyrical, melodic and epic stab at hip-hop influenced pop - moving away from quick-spat rhymes and head-nodding beats towards something mellower and almost indie-like - Wives is a full-force assault with turntables and mics. Eaters leave you in no doubt about what the fuck is up with Scottish hip-hop, as Dopeamean Jim and guest Eh One scratch the hell out of some old-school cuts, while Quietman and Laughing Gear drop some truly twisted rhymes.

The opening cut, 'Devil's Wristwatch' sets the tone - sinuous slap-bass descending menacingly into a counter-rhythm of snares and kicks as Laughing Gear announces: "I always wanted to be a rapper when I was younger..." He leads into a restrained rhyme, packing complexity and rhythmic disarray into a hectic verse that traces his route into hip-hop as a listener and writer. Quietman astounds on the galvanised electronic groove of 'Brainhoover,' spinning a menacing science fiction battle rhyme all over the twisted beats and tight-wound cuts.

Both emcees acquit themselves well on the delicate, almost beatless 'Thought For The Day,' a love story of sorts led by Quietman, which is the closest the album comes to Poltergeeks territory. 'The Hand of a Thousand Bitchslaps' (awesome title) ushers in the second half of the album, as a distressed trumpet battles a twisted sub-metal guitar riff beneath Laughing Gear's oscure, threatening flow. This is Dark Eaters, displaying all the bile and menace of so-called hardcore rap but with none of the posturing.

'Deformaties' is another in-your-face cut, with Laughing Gear dropping some jet-black speculative philosophy about post-human evolution, biotechnology and mutation. It's a standout track on an excellent album, also featuring some dark and grimy scratching.

'Execute' is Laughing Gear's "... love letter / to all the sheep out there," and expresses perfectly the anger and disgust the band feel towards the mainstream. Not necessarily the mainstream of music, nor specifically the mainstream of hip-hop - Quietman and Laughing Gear are raging here against the mainstream of life itself. Against people with fashionable haircuts and shit manners; against people who pollute the everyday psychic space that we all inhabit. It's a cathartic moment.

The album draw to a close with 'Baracuda', a spiky little number with verses against Americanization and commercialism. It's a fitting and uplifting end to a twisted journey through the minds of the Eaters, which will no doubt leave the listener sweaty, disturbed and changed.

Scottish hip-hop isn't the big money sound. It has little to do with the cartoonish dystopia of MTV escapism offered by mainstream American artists, and is often derided - even right here in Scotland - for not being authentic. Some artists react by distancing themselves from the term 'hip-hop', some react by aping those same American artists who have devalued the term. Some, like Eaters, simply don't give a fuck what you think. To them, this is how hip-hop sounds - and it sounds mighty healthy.

With Wives, they take their place as the foremost practitioners of the art up here in the dark north, paying due to Grant Morrison and Iain M. Banks as much as Stetsasonic and Run DMC (see Laughing Gear's track with Kobra Audio Labs for the details).

It will be very interesting to see whether Penpushers forthcoming album can equal the wit, vigour and balls that the Eaters have put into this album. Talk of a renaissance in Scottish hip-hop may be premature, not to mention too heavy a burden to put on a scene that is underfunded, slept-on and much maligned. That being said, with an album as good as Wives, Eaters could carry the weight. This is a career best, and by no means does it sound like a last gasp. Eaters are just getting started. Oh yes.


I had the honour of sharing the mic with Def Jam poet Nikki Patin in Auckland this weekend, on a radio show called Dirty Wordz, hosted by New Zealand's premier beat poet Shane Hollandz on Fleet FM.

Nikki Patin is a radical hip-hop and spoken word artist, with a hyper-intelligent take on race, body politics and gender issues - all of which are discussed and dissected in her most recent poetry collection, 'The Phat Grrrrl Diaries.' She also has the voice of a siren.

Nikki, Shane and I got down to some serious drinking (it was St Patrick's Day), but still managed to lay down some accapella rhymes, alongside tracks from Sileni, Burning Bright, Sophia, Jennifer Williams, Kobra Audio Labs feat. Laughing Gear, and of course Chemical Poets.

You can download the show here. Apologies in advance for the feedback - blame the whiskey.

Here's a video of Nikki Patin doing her thing:

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