The onward advance of technology is a double edge sword. And music technology is no different. The same advances and increasing affordability of the digital tools used to make music that has had such a democratising effect on the creative community means that it is also awash with music that simply doesn’t cut it. Harsh but true. Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should, and that is especially true of music-making.

Whilst it is excellent that music-making has become accessible to almost anyone who wants it, it means that we are now awash with auto-tuned popsters and wannabe rappers writing songs to the same beat patterns, replacing groove and melody with the same washy electronica and hollow sentiments. It is the triumph of style over substance, fashion over expression, and ego over creativity. I say all of this because it is only when I come across artists like Solr and albums such as The Doppler Effect, do I realise that there is still hope.

Right from the opening salvo, Our Percussions, you realise that you are in the presence of someone who knows what hip-hop is all about. It grooves and is funky; its beats are cool, and, perhaps my favourite aspect, it has something to say. Considering that hip-hop was born out of social disquiet, of the need for a particular element of society to create a platform from which to talk about everything from hometown concerns to acts of global revolution, its modern advocates seem surprisingly mute. Or worse, irrelevant.

Solr’s lyrics remind me of those early pioneers, pouring their concerns, their hopes, their visions, their dreams, their grudges, their feeling of disenfranchisement and their thoughts of revolution into their deft and dexterous lyrical streams of consciousness. When was the last time anyone from that quarter spoke about anything other than money, women, and being a victim? Solr is putting open and honest lyricism back on the map.

Your Honor is a slow jamming, depth-charge bass-driven groover, Limbo is the sound of traditional hip-hop embracing a modern clubland sound, and This Way is all about the constant tumble of lyrical prowess and fantastic rhymes, words with a rhythm and meter as melodic as the beats that they dance over.

Sorl is a student of music history. He calls on the echos of Eminem’s world-weary treatises as easily as he does the lighter and humorous De La Soul; he plays with the dark as readily as he juggles the light, balances wit with wisdom, delivers the profound as well as the profane.

Remember when hip-hop had something to say? When it grooved? When it was as infectious as pop music, as addictive as dance, when it was relevant, had depth and felt revolutionary? Solr does, and The Doppler Effect feels like coming up for air after drowning in a sea of off-the-shelf, auto-tuned, trap-beat-infused, ego-led banality.

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Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.

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