tokyo dawn

Album Review: The Repeat Factor - Portformat

BlackPlastic used to love hip-hop but these days we can't help but feel let down by the genre... Maybe we were just never real fans of real hip-hop, maybe when we spent so much time listening to those early Roots albums, the Tribe Called Quest back-cat and anything J Dilla touched we were just enjoying the stuff middle class suburban kids are supposed to dig. Maybe we weren't real.

But the truth is that if someone has made a genuinely brilliant hip-hop album in the past four years then we missed it. Even the near-universally-acclaimed MF Doom feels over-hyped.

It's with some surprise and a pang of nervousness then that BlackPlastic snuck a smile and shuffled back-and-forth to the beat on Portformat's debut album. Because on first listen it's good. Very good.

Bad news first. If you wanted to level criticism at The Repeat Factor you would be justified in complaining that the vocals fall short. Portformat's The Repeat Factor is really a demonstration of his production skill - the vocals suffer in the way that you would expect of an album that is producer, not MC, lead. They aren't bad - they just don't lead the music or captivate the listener.

What is good though is the production. With a loose, filtered feel it is vey reminiscent of J Dilla - but not the oft-immitated, vocal-sample based work he produced towards the end of his career. Instead The Repeat Factor sounds more like his work with A Tribe Called Quest on The Love Movement.

And it may be BlackPlastic's soft-spot for indie hip-hop showing again but The Repeat Factor is best when it strays into the left-field, as on 'U Gotta Find', the wonderfully textured 'Mothership' or on any of the superb instrumentals (or which particular note goes to 'Bionic Arms').

The jazzy touches and bags of space make The Repeat Factor shine. This is an album that manages to sound modern and yet still demonstrates that less IS more. It just about restores BlackPlastic's faith in hip-hop.

BP x

The Repeat Factor is released on Tokyo Dawn on 3 December 2009.