According to its own polished hype, the aptly named Hype Music is "a remarkable talent-incubating, hybrid, music licensing company fueled by some of the world's hottest, emerging, independent artists."
But Hype may just live up to its name. The company's a partnership between music industry powerhouses MTV Networks and Extreme Music, and its artist roster already looks pretty cool -- especially considering local hip-hop/indie rock duo The New F.O.'s are on it.
The New F.O.'s frequently get compared to Outkast, and listening to their first CD, a five-song EP titled Real. Life. Feel. Good., it's easy to hear the similarities. The opening track, "Cool Like a Fan," bops with swanky, funky percussion (think Outkast's "The Whole World") and plucky rock guitar, while vocalists Lifted (formerly of Tha Formula) and Pancho rap to the rhythms over a backdrop of female backup singers. It's easily the best track on the EP.
The rest of the songs on
Real. Life. Feel. Good.
are a mixed bag. The synth-driven "The Wall" adopts the vocal harmony stylings of Andre 3000 and Big Boi on the hook, with the positive vibe lyrics,"Let's bring the walls down/Let's sing a song about it." There's not much to the song instrumentally, but it does have a catchy beat and a big sonic smiley face. "Feel Good" opens with jangly guitar and organs, then explodes into a wannabe club-banger driven by a steadily strumming six-string. The strongest parts of the song are Pancho's soulful vocals, and the full, organic band behind him, a la The Roots.
Almost as good as "Cool Like a Fan," though, is "Mira, Mira!" a schizophonic techno/'80s New Wave- sounding song with synth grooves and electric drum beats. Pancho sings the hook in Spanglish (point being, "We can do it all night, you know/It's all right, you know"). There's a whole rap verse in Spanish near the end of the song, and it ends sounding like a cross between reggaeton and backpacker electro-hop. Lifted's lyrics can be hard to decipher, because he raps so fast in his gruff, smoky voice, but his skills are solid. Spitting 16 bars is cake to him, and he often incorporates multi-syllabic rhymes.
After rapping about positive vibes and feelgood stuff, the duo shows their diversity with the fifth and final track, "Nasty Girl," a strip club banger with Pancho singing a hook about the titular tramp, and Lifted rapping about supersizing, all wrapped around beats and squirmy synth hooks perfect for humping poles to.
Overall, the EP's pretty decent and makes a good teaser for the duo's forthcoming, nearly-finished full length album -- which will fall into Hype Music's buzz bin. "The New F.O.'s have shared the stage with Lupe Fiasco and Shwayze,"wrote Hype man Scott Diablo on the company's website. "They may be new to you, but Hype Music intends to make them a household name."
Niki has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and PHOENIX magazine, and is now a full-time freelancer.