Gisli - How About That
No bitches, no ho's, no hand on the Glock. Sometimes, hip hop comes out of somewhere other than South Central or the Bronx and when white guys break out of suburbia, there isn't much else to sing about other than watching too much television and fantasising about 'keeping it real'.
With Beck - including early songs like Loser and MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack - his acoustic hip-hop acoustic sounded like he'd played air guitar to Public Enemy as he rhymed about drugs, sex and weirdness grasped from daytime television shows. Before the release of Odelay, where he started to make sense, Mellow Gold, One Foot In The Grave and Stereopathic Soul Manure spun off hip hop, blues, folk and psychedelia, going from the gentle Rowboat to Satan Gave Me A Taco as easily as spinning a coin.
Since Odelay, when Beck got serious, there's been an absence of white guys mixing Dylan with The Wu-Tang but Gisli, a 26-year-old from Iceland, might be the thing to get fans of early Beck excited again. This single, released today (12/1/2004), contains three songs but you'll be pushed to find an obvious b-side amongst them. How About That, the first track, opens with the line, "A lot of princesses used to be sluts" before bursting into a fuggy chorus featuring the stoned claim, "We're all doing fine / I'll just sit and relax...leave me the fuck alone."
Second song, Can You Make Me Right, is even better as it kicks off with feedback, Cypress Hill beats and scratches, a loping bass and a cracking set of lyrics. Whilst lines like, "I'm like lesbian sex without a strap-on / I'm like the Wu-Tang without the ex-cons" smack of seeing the world through cable television, it's still as inventive as Mellow Gold and cut through with a funk beyond what a guy from Iceland ought to be capable of.
The final song is a sweet little ballad, which loses the pop culture references for heartfelt sentiment and ought to be the song that country stars will cover as Johnny Cash did with Rowboat on American Recordings II: Unchained.
Gisli makes it all clear in Can You Make Me Right by saying that he is, "...like Bob Dylan with nothing to tell." He's not far wrong but in mixing funk, beats, blues and folk as easily as he does here, it's possible to forgive him doing rock/hip hop without ever getting close to a drive-by.
Note...Amazon.co.uk, who we would normally link to, are only carrying the 7" single of this, which was released in November. By going to Gisli's website, you can order the single or download a couple of MP3s.