Homecut - No Freedom Without Sacrifice
Homecut is a project that’s been five years in the making and the question has to be, was it worth the wait. Well the album, brainchild of Leeds based rapper Testament starts fairly slowly, with discordant piano breaks graduating into a gospel breakbeat mantra which hammers home the album’s central message that there is No Freedom Without Sacrifice. It isn’t until track three and debut single I don’t even know, featuring the impossibly heartmelting vocals of Corinne Bailey Rae, that the record finds its feet and from hereon in there’s no looking back. The instrumentation, at times breathtaking, and arrangement is inspired, melding jazz, hip-hop, latin and soul into something unique.
Tracks such as Innovators recall influences such as Tribe Called Quest in that this is intelligent, melodic rap music which steers clear of the cash-cow subject matter of guns and bitches. For me, however, Homecut are most directly comparable to the jazzy, soulful hip-hop of bands like Galliano and Young Disciples, dealing with stories of the city with intelligence and genuine soul. Testament recognises that mankind has got bad credit as he recounts the problems of urban mistrust and culture clashes in the City Song yet everything he delivers remains resolutely underpinned with optimism. The album deals with homelessness, racism, drug dealing and rampant capitalism but the underlying themes are faith, hope and redemption.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (look it up) marks the mid-point of the album and is a delightfully off-the-wall, mad rant from Ty which leaves Testament in no doubt that he needs to deliver his next album without waiting another 5 years!. Time Difference really tips a nod to the daisy age, featuring J-Live on the mic and some sublime trumpet work that recalls Miles’ Sketches of Spain. The album’s tour-de-force, however, is Harmony which, featuring some wild African influenced Jazz, tells the life affirming story of Testament’s mixed race parents and their triumph in overcoming the hate and fear fuelled racism of the Enoch era UK.
One of the most refreshing hip-hop albums I’ve heard in decades, Testament is endearing, intelligent and, most importantly, knows how to craft a tune. I hope we hear much, much more from Homecut.