By: Natalie Clark
EVOLP are Unitec student Matthew Moore and his mates Sam Slaughter and Andrew Cesan (creative aliases Terbo, Caset and Lapse respectively). Produced by Chris Mac-Jones, their recent EP Chromatic release features nine tracks in a neat 29 minutes of fresh hip-hop rap with a definite kiwi influence and an honest, articulate voice.
Although they are young EVOLP have much to say. The EP hugely projects a sense of their identity as young Auckland males. In true kiwi style the EP dabbles in other genres and is innovative and explorative while remaining relatable.
Refreshingly, EVOLP manage to avoid the chronic disease which plagues emerging NZ artists as they try desperately (and politely) to prove themselves in a country which “isn’t big enough to make it”. EVOLP belt out their lyrics without apology, full of fierce and fiery yet inoffensive testosterone and the hungry energy of urban youth. It doesn’t feel like they are doing this because they think they have to, this is just how they do it. Their sound is loud and competitive and although this alone doesn’t make them stand out, their lyrics suggest they are “the new kids on the block”.
The album begins with a two minute “skit” in which the characters (EVOLP) are abducted and taken over by “beats”. I’m not entirely convinced by the skit but it grabs my attention for being courageous and playful. Chronologically the songs are fluid. Towards the end the pace borders on becoming monotonous. Fortunately the last track, Demolish, delivers brutal, high-energy attack that verges into dubstep. I had actually heard this track before as an instrumental and was pleased lyrics were added to it for the EP. It’s a great outro.
There’s a contrast between chilled, easy-listening beats and more dynamic, confronting lyrics. The lyrics are as musical as if not more so than the beat, but this means that sometimes the lyrics carry the music. However, in an EP that is so focused on what the artists have to say it’s likely this is an intentional choice. EVOLP has stories they urgently want to share. Not lame, faux-real stories about a harsh upbringing in the Bronx with an alcoholic mom and an underpaid job until finding a musical ‘break’. I easily warm to EVOLP’s earnestness. It’s quite clear that they intend their music to be more than top 40 entertainment. In saying that the accessibility of some tracks could easily get them radio play.
There is a LOT of information to digest at first but the more I listened the more I appreciated it. I generally don’t listen to this genre but EVOLP’s lucid ideas, information and gutsy opinions make them far more enjoyable than shallow and superficial rap that leaves the listener unaffected. At the very least, this music is provocative. At it’s best it’s daring yet receivable and well-crafted.
You can download the boys’ EP for FREE from www.soundcloud.com/evol-p.