Swet Shop Boys cross boundaries in debut album 'Cashmere'
Cashmere by Swet Shop Boys
No f’s-giving trio Das Racist dissolved and then Queens, NY-made Punjabi emcee Heems released his solo debut Eat Pray Thug, but recently he’s been linking up with two other guys that are not Kool AD or Dapwell. The Swet Shop Boys are made up of Heems of course but also Pakistani-English rapper Riz MC and London producer Redinho. Their debut LP, Cashmere (Oct 14, Customs), is just as diverse as the backgrounds of its members. As fun and tongue-in-cheek as it seems to always lean back on from time to time, it’s also sociopolitically observant and outspoken, though it never gets extremely controversial despite some nice spots of tempered protest.
Redinho has fused together some choice South Asian and Middle Eastern instruments with strong drums and Western electro-music favorites for a very unique hip-hop production sound. In tandem, Heems and Riz cover some playful topics relieved by status quo busters that are critical of police violence (“Shottin”), media censorship (“Half Moghul Half Mowgli”), government surveillance (“Phone Tap”) and racism (several parts). As often as our vocalists here are system-shakers and establishment-quakers though, they are also fly hip talks of the town and lives of the party just as often if not more of the time.
Tailored for English language familiar rap-audiences as much as for folks from Riz and Heems’ own neck of the world-woods ethnically-speaking, Cashmere has adequate eclecticism to draw a diverse variety of listeners. Their attitude and regional tongues, dialects and slang plus their light, not-too-serious nature keep it pretty well rounded. The rhyme-lyricism and wordplay both get involved most of the time, though not incessantly, and Redinho’s experimental house-type beats make for many nice backdrop musics of a type rarely heard before. Only time will tell if this solid, substantial threesome will be able to maintain their group dynamic and cohesion over the long run.