The world might not yet be familiar with Norwegian hip-hop, but...Madcon are very able...
Louis Pattison 2008-08-13
Hip-hop duo Madcon are platinum-selling stars in their native Norway, although Norwegian hip-hop not being a particularly visible genre outside its homeland, it's probable that you're not yet acquainted with Tshawe 'Kapricon' Baqwa and Yosef 'Critical' Wolde-Mariam. Both born in Norway, both to African parents, their latest album, So Dark The Con Of Man, is a strange mish-mash of genres, mixing live instrumentation, female vocals and dance beats in a way more reminiscent of the eclectic approach of Outkast or Gnarls Barkley than the steelier beats of US rap. Or, as the pair put it: ''The way we do things/Is a little bit unorthodox/The way we do things make your mo-f***ing jaws drop''. Jaws might, indeed, drop at the opening Beggin', a cover of the Four Seasons original reworked by production team 3Elementz that sees Kapricon croon the original Franki Valli hook while Critical adds rabbity raps: Hear it once and, like Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, you won’t be able to shake it.
Rather than standing out like a sore thumb on this record, though, it rather sets the tone for what's to come – textured, melodic hip-hop heavy on the dancefloor rhythms. Back On The Road is a swinging link up with fellow Norway rap troupe The Paperboys; Life's Too Short rides a salsa rhythm, all stuttering percussion, horns, and hand claps; while The Way We Do Thangs adopts a feisty Latin bounce, even as police sirens tear by. The world might not yet be familiar with Norwegian hip-hop, but going on So Dark The Con Of Man, Madcon are very able ambassadors, and might just have a few crossover hits on their hands.