Texan rapper rocks out with some pedigree punks on a fresh and vibrant debut LP.
Raziq Rauf 2011
A criticism often applied to rap-rock records is that the rock accompanying the rap is regularly a dull bludgeon compared to that normally associated with a cutting-edge fusion of genres. The implication being that the rap-rock in question is far from innovative; that the music is, in fact, cheap and dull. But that’s not something that can be fired at Hyro Da Hero.
Boasting former members of At the Drive-In, The Blood Brothers and Idiot Pilot, the band at work here was put together after Hyro Da Hero met with producer (and seemingly professional connector) Ross Robinson. The reputation and acclaim of said bands and producer ensures that the music is fresh and vibrant, and with the searing social commentary provided by the Texan rapper, the winning formula is complete.
He does drop the N-Bomb several times per song, but such behaviour and assorted other expletives shouldn’t be construed as a lack of eloquence on the MC’s part; quite the opposite, in fact. A Conversation With Hip Hop actually sees Hyro denigrate the use of such language, before turning the air dark blue several times himself. However, by discussing challenging issues such as visual stereotypes, social exclusion and, indeed, the throwaway use of such industrial language he manages to rise above it all. The name-checks of Deftones, Run DMC and Bad Brains go some way towards summing up this debut album. The closest reference point, though, is surely Rage Against the Machine – not a bad one to have.
The overt anger and self-belief in fairly the straightforward, sample-laden opener Grudge is directed at cynical peers, and seems to set the tone; but the staccato indie riffs that open The Worlds Stage take such swagger and streamline it. The agile, discordant guitars that open Sleeping Giants give it an organic feel that is as far away as possible from either the heavy studio production of modern hip hop or the blunt power chords of much rap-rock. The rambunctious closing moments of Section 8 could have been pulled from any Blood Brothers album, suggesting it’s the inclusion of those pedigree punk-rockers that sets this album apart.
While Birth, School, Work, Death is unlikely to define rap-rock forever, it certainly has the potential to appeal to fans of either genre very comfortably. Hyro Da Hero has created a fresh and interesting blend of music and clever wordplay which broaches topics of prejudice and respecting the world we live in with notable humour and intelligence.