Scene and Heard –  CCLX : Strapaholics –  Amb1shn (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

61hGC26eWrL._SS500Strapaholics arrives at a very poignant time for America, a time when discussion around gun laws is more heated and divided than ever, but then music has always been good at starting conversations. Sadly conversations at this level rarely get taken seriously by the powers that be, but music is a powerful medium and can bring debate to the darkest and most isolated corners and of course just because the right people aren’t necessarily listening doesn’t mean that you have to stop making your point.

Armed with a powerful video, Amb1shn wraps his thoughts and world views in a slick piece of urban genre-splicing, a blend of cutting edge rap and muscle bound R&B groove, music which lyrically tips its hat to the street smart hip-hop which gave birth to the scene in the first place but musically is the slicker, smoother textured style of today.

East Coast lyrical dexterity meets underlying West Coast swagger, golden age 90’s vibes but laced with the fresh and exploratory sound of the contemporary scene, Strapaholics is the perfect blend of familiarity and forward thinking, of knowing your place in musical history and being brave enough to write your own chapter. The lyrics are filled with street philosophy, grim reality and social commentary and land perfectly on the listener with style and confidence and the whole affair is spacious, allowing every word and every beat room to breathe and so work more effectively. A game raising musical slice if ever there was one.

R&B, rap, skittering trap percussion, soulful hip-hop and even some unexpectedly accessible pop tones find their way into the proceedings, it plays with laid back patterns under the vocals, and if it wasn’t for the directness and blunt images discussed in the lyrics could almost find itself with mass commercial appeal. But this isn’t the world of compromise and Amb1shn is nothing if not unambiguous in the scenes and scenarios he conjures and it is this balance of some of the smoothest sounds overlaid with the harsh realities of life and the pulse of the street that makes this such a mercurial musical ride.

Although it is easy to pick music apart to see what it is made of, in the here the song is more than the sum of its parts when the work is finished and the joins neatly concealed and it is easier to defined it by what it is the alternative to rather than what it conforms to. It is an old school OG brain on a young pair of shoulders, alt-trap and post-rap and even in the dark streets of the underground urban scene, this seems even deeper, darker and more defiant.

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