Kingdom of Fear – Kingdom of Fear
Remember when hip-hop used to be fun? Not cartoon hip-hop, not novelty hip-hop. Just fun. If you do, and you've been feeling alienated by the swathes of either disposable, commercially-driven hip-hop-lite that gets radio play, or the dark-as-fuck, crime-infested plastic gangsterism of most of the rap that masquerades as 'underground,' then Kingdom of Fear will come as a welcome return to the founding principles of boom-bap.
With tight, polished beats drawing on funk, jazz, rock and smooth soul breaks from producer Jehst, and devastating lyrical acrobatics from a 'mystery emcee' (it's Kashmere, natch), the jumping-off point is an exploration of the works of Hunter S. Thompson. This basically means fourteen tracks of raps about drugs, drink and hallucinations. It's utterly fantastic, full of laugh-out-loud punchlines, surreal imagery and HST-inspired samples. Kingdom of Fear is a lush, paradisal island in a sea of mediocrity – here's hoping they make a sequel.