Somnambule - Writing About Music

Part 2 ~ Live From The Breadline

The Press Release for Live From The Breadline declares that “Part 2 is UK urban music’s best-kept secret”, that over the past decade he’s “been constantly ahead of the game” and that “many of his innovations [have prefigured] the current Black Music renaissance in this country.” That the man on the cover image appears to be a white man makes this copy a tad unsettling, given the history of white appropriation of black musical innovation (and is that an air rifle he’s clutching?) Press releases are lessons in hype and hyperbole, but apart from these concerns it’s difficult not to have one’s hopes raised given the signifiers – urban, underground, raw, streetwise and so on - carefully deployed throughout the text.

Part 2 is probably best known for his well-regarded productions for UK hiphopper New Flesh, as well as remixes for the likes of Roots Manuva and Saul Williams. Live From The Breadline, however, is his first release as leader and its 15 tracks (two of which are brief skits) feature an assortment of guest vocalists, including New Flesh’s Toastie Taylor and Juice Aleem. So does the music deliver? Well, the beats kick, skip and bounce very nicely, while the bass is satisfyingly in yer face and shares the limelight with the vocalists. Live From The Breadline weaves a variety of styles together that includes elements of R’n’B, breakbeat, Grime, Soul, Reggae, Hiphop and UKG. If that sounds like it might be yet another mishmash of 12”s, Part 2’s vivid style and attention to detail binds the project together into a coherent whole. The vocalists are highly creative and beautifully produced: it feels like they’re right in your head, the sound’s so nakedly clear. The subject matter is like an upbeat Streets - minus the laconic dolefulness.

Chasin’ features Juice Aleem’s brilliantly delivered tale of flirtation via texts and the events of a night’s clubbing. Concrete Jungle could be a noughties update on The Specials classic with which it shares its title. It’s pure UK, but there’s no sign of parochialism or US-centric derivativeness. With its interlacing of spine-tingling Grime bass, ragga jiggery and soul/reggae vocals, it puts the UK at the centre of the map with the Caribbean and the States audible, but not crowding the outcome. And that’s what Live From The Breadline really delivers – a sense of vibrant life and attitude exuded with every chorus, stanza, shout and beat. I’m reminded of The Neptunes’ brilliant productions except that Part 2’s project is actually likeable, it’s possible to relate to its surfaces and sentiments, instead of being worn down by the gloss and the fronting that Presents... Clones seemed to do so relentlessly. Live From The Breadline delivers a brilliant, visceral ride. Highly recommended.
Colin Buttimer
August 2005
Published by milkfactory