If hip-hop is seen as the home of edgy, authentic music when compared to pop music’s more lightweight creations, it is where the two meet that Tom Orlando can be found. It is the perfect place to reside and his music proves it. Here, his rap-sung lyrics and deft deliveries are cocooned in infectious grooves, his street-edge and honesty dancing harmoniously with pop’s euphoric rhythms. And if that isn’t the best of both worlds, I don’t know what is!
Love & Lust, his latest EP, kicks off with the confident sonics of Get Down, a love-driven pop song remade as an urban, underground club anthem, a blend of soulful guitars and disco-infused beats but always sounding like a song of the here-and-now and ready to take the genre into a bright new future.
Eryn Young adds some cool vocals to the boy/girl, call and return duet of Love It That Way, a wonderful contrast of the bad boy saying thanks for making me want to be a better person and the sweet girl vocals telling him that it’s a lonely life at the top.
Warm Nights runs on heavy grooves and depth-charge bass pulses but as always it is the vocals that are the focal point, punchy staccato raps that stomp and stamp all over the opposition and Searching (w)raps things up, a more spacious and reflective hip-hop ballad and the perfect way to sign off.
What’s great about what Tom Orlando does is that in his quest to find somewhere new to take hip-hop, he doesn’t push outwards into new territory and try to take the genre to unnecessary extremes. Instead, he pushes inward into established genres – pop, disco, dance – clubland sounds that just need a bit of spicing up. And the result of this clash of street edge and mainstream makes for a great set of songs, songs that are infectious, accessible and immediate but without losing any of the swagger and attitude which defined the genre in the first place.