Sometimes it is the littlest detail that catches your attention. With this EP, it was the title of the group. I am a teacher and I love reading. I always have abook on the go, so seeing a rap group with the name of The Book Thieves, I just had to check them out.
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The Book Thieves are two-man outfit consisting of Ol-e Mac and Legoman. They are based in Oxford, England and have been making waves in the U.K. hip-hop scene for quite some time. Both MCs are solo artists as well and Legoman recently released his album What Can I Do You For?
I appreciate an album or an E.P. that can start out with straight music. I often get tired of hearing skits or lengthy introductory tracks. In Spite of Everything… starts starts out with a filtered beat that hints at good things to come. When the filter is removed we are treated to horns, a vocal sample, a hard kick, and a nice snare. When the beat kicks in, so does the rapping and we are immediately drawn into The Book Thieves world.
The first MC on the track, “Rappers Seeking Allowance”, captures what I was hoping a group by the name of The Book Thieves would. Ol-e Mac raps, “Nurturing my narrative, diversify my character / writing hopeful paragraphs of caliber / . . . hope to motivate and change the chapter with a redesign / redefining literature through paragraphs of written rhyme / . . . And as I peak into this novel that I gaze upon / I hope to be provided with a gift from mother nature’s warmth”
It’s not often that you hear a rapper mentioning that he reads, much less showing us how words are a gift. I love how both rappers on the track talk about the power of books and the written word. Perhaps they can reach more people with hip-hop than they ever could with novels.
When the second MC on the tracks raps, “I did my teacher’s training / I have never worked so hard / but now I sit alone / unemployed in my yard,” I could certainly relate. I felt like this group was rapping my story and I can definitely relate to what Legoman is saying with these lyrics. It’s tough getting a full time teaching job even for excellent, well-experienced teachers. In the next song “I don’t know why nobody will hire me. I don’t know. I don’t know. . . But we’ll always have faith in our music. That we know. That we know.” That just shows his dedication to his craft of rhyming and his profession of teaching and it really spoke to me.
The beats for this EP are really amazing. I like how the first two tracks present us with classic boom bap soundsacpes that hearken back to the best sample driven rap of the golden age. Then on the third track, King Boyden provides a mello backdrop for the track “Sarah.” A soulful vocal sample drives the beat while the MCs show respect to the women in their lives. Once again, a breath of fresh air in a genre that more often degrades women.
“Love is not about finding that perfect person but learning to see that imperfect person perfectly in all perspectives.” What a great line from Ol-e Mac.
The fourth track on this EP gives us some jazz. A soft piano loop starts off the track, then is joined by a hit-hat, a muted trumpet, and a nice drum pattern. Fredo is credited with producing this track. He also produced the boom-bap of the opening song and the closing battle track “Please Don’t.” Definitely a producer to look out for.
My only criticism of the EP is the use of the word “cunt” in the chorus of the final track “Please Don’t.” I know that slang differs from region to region and that where this group is from, the word is on par with that of “asshole” over here. That being said, I do find the use of that word a bit off-putting.
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