I’m not a huge fan of the expression “best kept secret”. Whenever I hear it I always think of some weird conspiracy or somebody trying to push their crappy work using it as an excuse for no one giving a shit. “Ooh, it’s a best keep secret!” Nope, it’s just shitty. But on some rare occasions I actually do get it, and this is one of those occasions. When I found out that 2econd Class Citizen is releasing a new EP, this exact thought formed in my brain: “I actually know this guy and I fuckin’ love what he does, but you probably don’t know him, because he’s one of the trip-hop’s best kept secrets”. It isn’t a secret for those music gourmands who quickly bought out the first print of the EP on vinyl, but 2econd Class Citizen remains pretty much unknown to the majority. Hopefully not for long. The new full-length is due next month and if it is as good as the EP, I expect a lot of positive buzz.
It seems like everyone is trying really hard these days to not use samples, go as instrumental as possible and create new sounds. How about creating good music? That certainly seems to be the focus of Outside Your Doorway EP. The sound is so effortless and careless that at the first listen is easy to miss all the layers and details just going with the flow of the music. But this is exactly what makes the record so good – the skillful combination of many (crazy) elements, the seamless pattern of very different parts that somehow totally make sense together. Take away the folk-y vocal sample from the title track and it turns into just another example of melancholic instrumental trip-hop. Leave the vocals without the beat – and it’s just a dusty folk song from a scratched up record. 2econd Class Citizen manages to make folk sound fresh without any artificial aftertaste. “Liberated Lady” throws some funk into the mix with the beat intensifying and promising a journey filled with surprises. Buddy Peace adds a bunch of tribal elements to his remix of “Liberated Lady” and then Dday One cranks up the insanity with the creaky remix of “Outside Your Doorway”, which made me go “Oh, that’s a nice touch!” a few times – like when wind chimes came in or when I realized that cicadas are used as an instrument. I’m usually lukewarm towards rap – it’s not exciting enough to me to be the main element of the song, so “Insect Forms” (feat. James Reindeer) didn’t really make a lasting impact, but I did appreciate the dark atmosphere. The EP concludes with “Outside Your Doorway” (Know My Soul Mix) that paints a quite different, dark and menacing picture of the world that is out there. A nice and smooth transition from “fun and games” of the first two tracks to mysterious and scary to plain darkness and abyss towards the end. It’s not easy to achieve such cohesiveness on a short EP, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem for 2econd Class Citizen. I don’t know what kind of story his LP will tell, but I’m surely want to be the first one to hear it.
2econd Class Citizen – Outside Your Doorway EP is available now from Equinox Records, which gave us the excellent J.Baracuz – A Contemporary Witness EP last year, so these guys definitely know their music.