Who’s your favourite German-hip-hop-producer-supergroup? Any ideas? Probably not but I can let you into a little secret. It’s The Betty Ford Boys. Presumably taking their name from the alcoholic, former US first lady, who went on to set up a substance dependency treatment centre, the name of which has become synonymous with rehabilitation, The Betty Ford Boys consist of Suff Daddy, Dexter and Brenk Sinatra.
All three of these guys are highly respected sonic auteurs in their own right so the prospect of a collaboration is enough to make even sufferers of dry mouth syndrome salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. Ding, ding. So, is it any good or is it a case of too many brewmeisters spoiling the brew?
It’s probably worth noting that I don’t really know just how this album was concocted. I’m not sure if all tracks were produced by all members or if individual tracks were produced by an individual member. There are certainly some moments that sound like Suff Daddy but I’ve not really been able to ascertain a significant signature style for any of the other members. I guess it doesn’t have too much bearing on the overall success of the project but it would certainly be nice to know.
The overall quality is high. There are some tracks that I’m not particularly blown away by but even then I would suggest that that is down to personal taste rather than any tracks being of inferior quality. That being said there are some real moments of quality here.
The album opens with ”The Time Has Come (4 Us To Be One)’ which is all g-funk high frequencies, shimmering guitar chops and a very choice vocal sample which will bring a smile to the older or wiser hip hop heads. It’s slightly reminiscent of the man in the street’s favourite hip hop record for sunshine days…but don’t tell them I said that!
Track two ‘Hero Heroin’ has had a lot of repeat plays by me. I find myself being entranced by it’s approximation of IDM stylings. It comfortably sits in the centre of an equilateral triangle who’s points are marked by Boards of Canada, Hudson Mohawke and some badass hip hop.
‘Coco Puffs’ is another stand out track. It’s slightly sombre in tone but avoids becoming maudlin by dint of it’s quirky synth leads. If I was in charge of the soundtrack for a Mario game this would definitely be the music for when he dies. It’s a little bit sad but just inviting enough for you to want to give it one more go.‘Papa Was (A Junky), Too’ is a wistful affair with some beautifully layered sounds. It’s busy but not crowded and it has a lovely chopped up piano riff at it’s heart. My favourite section of the song only lasts for about six seconds. Toward the end of the track there is a lovely breakdown with a flute (I think?) sample. It’s gorgeous. I’ve found myself rewinding the last 45 seconds of the track just to enjoy that drop.
Honourable mention goes to ‘Snow Soul’ for being beguilingly gorgeous and then drifting into quite moody and menacing territory. It’s all chopped pianos and soul vocals and suddenly it feels like you’re being rasped by and angry tanpura that’s come straight from plying on-stage with Portishead.
I’ve picked out those tracks for special attention because they are the ones that particularly connected with me. That’s not to say that the others are not worthy of your attention but that they just didn’t grab me in quite such an urgent fashion. I’ve been listening to this album a couple of times a day for a week now. It’s excellent commute-fodder. There’s enough of a variety in moods to make you feel that you’ve been on a musical journey as well as a geographical one.
Overall this is high quality album with some gorgeous moments and some moments that are very much familiar to those familiar with the hip hop canon (‘Westcoast Shizznit’, anybody?). I liked familiar moments well enough (except for the one that I just mentioned) but they didn’t excite. Don’t be disheartened though when this album does excite it get’s it just right. There are plenty of moments that will have you reaching for the ‘back’ button. Add this to collection and you’ll be in no doubt that this is the definitive German-hip-hop-producer-supergroup. I just hope that, before they make more albums, nobody tries to make them go to rehab, no? No. NO!…(sorry, couldn’t resist…getting my coat now).