TTC - Ceci n'est pas un Disque
As years and singles followed one another, TekiLatex, Tido Berman and Cuizinier have kept reminding us what being surprised feels like. Their first album, which they entitled the Magritte way, is no exception to their rule. Ceci n’est pas un Disque (This is not a record) is not just about putting together what has already been done, it stands out by the new evolution in the sound and the way the trio works.
Whether they were forced or challenged to cream off the best from their repertoire (or maybe did they renounce some past experiences), the "Abstract French Sponge-like Rappers" (as they are called) kept only their attempt at industrial hip-hop ("Subway"), their last two singles ("Elémentaire" and "Danser") and recorded a fresh blend of their anti-wack manifesto ("Toi-même"). All the others are brand new tracks, some of which are astounding.
Forget about the blazing singles "Game over 99" or "Leguman", and leave the live hits "Champagne sans Bulle" or "L’Aventure Intérieure" aside; our three men sound tempered with tracks tinged with funk music ("Nonscience", "Teste Ta Compréhension"), or even bouncy beats ("Toi-même"), even if their trademark multi-barrel lyrics and stylistic devices always prevail. The high-pitched voice of TekiLatex, the most peculiar of the three, also sounds less climactic than before. In this respect, Ceci n’est pas un Disque leaves more the impression of a sophomore rather than a debut album. The artists have already digested and transcended the independent hip-hop they once figured, and kept only the best of it : the ultimate detachment from the awfully clumsy and redundant themes of hip-hop in the French language.
The infallible "Subway" (a track that has been slept-on by many, over-rated by a few) even sounds forlorn, amidst not-so-much out-of-reach pieces like "Pollutions" (on which the crew discreetly appeases a long-standing Abba fantasy together with La Caution), "Elémentaire" and "Danser" (produced by Tido), all of which are potential bangers despite their lack of clichés. Just add to these "De Pauvres Riches", a track you would not like to miss, that demythifies the rhetorical destitution always associated with hip-hop, supported by an entertaining instrumental by classic Anglo Russian producer DJ Vadim.
All this is actually not a surprise. The previous singles had already proved that TTC and their producers know how to make a hit. Ceci n’est pas un Disque now shows they can also make songs that have an unquestionable and lasting charm, with two tracks, surprisingly not produced by the renowned beatmakers on the albums (Mr Flash, DJ Vadim or Nikkfurie from La Caution), but by Para One and DJ Tacteel, two members of L’Atelier (a super group gathering emcee and producer James Delleck, former ATK emcee Cyanure , freestyle genius Fuzati, TekiLatex, Para One and Tacteel).
The former produces "Pas d‘Armure", a long and visual instrumental adorned with obsessive drums. This whole constitutes a top-class accompaniment for five emcees, especially for the American guest of the album, Dose One; we can only regret that the incredible Anticon emcee largely outshines the others, and makes their performances relative. Only Hi-Tekk’s solemn and sententious voice can really for a time counterbalance Dose’s whiny and disturbed chants. DJ Tacteel did the grim and fabulous instrumental to ‘En soulevant le couvercle’, the second key spot of the album, probably the best part of it.
The other new tracks are unfortunately not as good. If "Nonscience" and "Teste Ta Compréhension" have a generally funny atmosphere that ease their way into the album, ‘Reconstitution’ and the slushy instrumental in "Soudaine Montée d’Adrénaline" sound empty. This is not too serious considering the whole quality of the album. Ceci n’est pas un Disque still achieves to reconcile in a consistent album the contradictory forces that dwell in TTC, who make French hip-hop devoid of its rules and connected to the international scene, tempted by experiments, and still inside the short format of well-prepared hits.
In the end, Ceci n’est pas un Disque is not that revolutionary record, this cat among the pigeons, that was to open up the path for French hip-hop to reach another dimension. And this is probably the best thing that could happen. As cool as a first album, strengthened by the experience stored during the last 4 years; maybe this is not a record, but there’s no doubt it is a good album, sounder and more durable than you could think.
Translated by Gnusball
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