Thursday, 25 July 2013

Micall Parknsun - The Working Class Dad (2005)

For roughly a decade of my life I listened to rap music almost to the exclusion of everything else, which was partially to do with circumstances. I was working at Royal Mail as a postman which, regardless of what you may have heard, is one tough fucking job day after day with the early starts, heavy weights, climbing stairs, and having complete strangers calling you a cunt more often than you would like. I needed something to drown out the jangly indie-guitar toss of the crap station to which the sorting office radio would invariably be tuned, and because a lot of the younger guys liked their rap, it rubbed off on me in a big way; so that was what I'd have on my walkman for four or five hours a day, because it just seemed to work in a way that nothing else did; and the more I listened to rap, the weaker and more mannered everything else began to sound.

Stand them next to UGK or Three-6-Mafia in their heyday, and even the most violently offensive power electronics act will look like an art gallery installation with everyone mincing around sipping red wine and scoffing cheese footballs; and after you've been listening to rap for a while, even the most profoundly sensitive guitar-strumming artist of the last few generations becomes a sulky poet eating his ice cream in front of a velvet curtain, because there is a certain kind of blue collar bad day during which that knob from Razorlight telling you that everything's gonna be all raaaaaht just doesn't make you feel any better.

Of course, now that my life has become somewhat less shite, I am once again able to appreciate other genres without becoming irritable, but rap really does something unique and special. I think it's down to the lyrical content and the relation of artist to image - as in how they come across - all of which vaguely ties in to that stuff about keeping it real as opposed to keeping it overwrought and solitary in an empty room clutching a single rose like Coldplay man or Bonzo from U2. Rap has one hell of a lot of words and as such can often amount to a hell of a lot of content compared to other forms of music, content as in material delivered to your ears rather than simply interpreted by the listener. This means a rap record that's doing its job provides a good visceral kick in addition to a mammoth pile of issues upon which one may choose to cogitate, and will tend to reward repeated listening because there's so much to take in, certainly more than most can digest in one sitting.

Quite aside from the minor stroke of genius of naming himself after a long-running English chat show host, Micall Parknsun makes rap records that do their job - pissed off and quite vocal about the fact for all sorts of reasons without that being his entire schtick, and without quite fitting neatly into any existing rap demographic. English MCing at least for a while seems to have been of a surprisingly high lyrical standard, with even the also-rans quite capable of holding their own against artists who would be hailed as worldbeating in the States. I'm not sure Micall Parknsun is even that big a name in the UK let alone anywhere else, and yet he ranks effortlessly alongside recognised lyrical greats from over this side of the pond, and I'm pretty sure this isn't just my being swayed by references to Blankety Blank and Les Dawson, lest it seem like I'm reliving those months during which Roots Manuva's greatest talent was apparently the ability to mention cheese on toast in a song, at least according to the music press of the time. The production is similarly spot-on, mostly falling somewhere within the general area of UK hip-hop as it stood around 2005, maybe a distant DJ Premier influence mixed up with 1960s film soundtracks, but better than that probably sounds and with some great deep bass. The Working Class Dad is eight years old now, which seems incredible, so I guess if the guy was ever going to be massive then maybe it would have happened already; still, I guess it's never too late, and he's definitely deserving.

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