31 Oct 2020
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Scalper - Single Review: Dust

30 Sep 2020 // A review by Steve Shyu

Nadeem Shafi, better known by his stage name Scalper, has been in and around the United Kingdom and Aotearoa hip-hop circuits for nearly three decades. Having performed under numerous rap groups and continuously releasing solo albums under his own moniker, he has not stopped creating. More recently renowned for his eerie and hyper-dark form of underground hip-hop, he is gearing up to release his fourth full-length album, entitled The Beast and the Beauty. Ahead of the 1 October release date, Muzic.net.nz’s Steve S got a good glimpse of new single Dust.

Like an intro to a punk song, a fuzzy, distorted guitar riff cuts an opening, while a cavernous tribal drum beat slowly pounds. Unconventional is Scalper’s style, and the use of this drum sound certainly is unconventional in the world of modern hip-hop, where often cookie-cutter electronic rhythms dominate. The bass layers are a thick mix of warmth and psychedelia, there are subtle electronic wobbles to help drive the deep groove. There’s also what seems to be sampled upright double-bass plucks, and when this acoustic sound is combined with the drums, give off a primal and world-music atmosphere. While slow, the depth in the rhythm makes the groove addictive and refreshing to experience.

Scalper is often known for his brand of dark, cryptic poetry, and on Dust he comments on the human condition in his usual fashion, reflecting on mankind in the form of a prayer to a natural entity. The raspy, baritone quality of Scalper’s voice matches the electric guitar samples perfectly, like an ancient spirit performing heavy metal spoken word.

“O my goddess, where art thou?
You’ve lost our way since we set out.

We took the reins and bound for war,

Slaughtered so much for the shine of gold.”

“Sacrifice is the price of want,
So here is dust, build what you must.”

Here, Scalper appears to offer meditations on material possessions, and one’s responsibilities in doing less of what we want to and more of what we ought to. The deep bass mix, earthly drum beats, and conscious verses make this both an intoxicating AND sobering listen, paradoxically. Personally, I believe this to be his best song yet. There are echoes of Massive Attack throughout this song, and the brooding and moody tone of the lyrics shouldn’t be unusual to the aforementioned UK group. Make no mistake, this is ultimately Aotearoa hip-hop (and possibly under the umbrella of trip-hop as well) at its darkest. Stripped of all pride, Scalper speaks. And dust stirs.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Scalper

Scalper is Nadeem Shafi, born and raised in East London of Pakistani descent. First seen in Aotearoa New Zealand at WOMAD 1997 as the vocalist for the British band Fun-da-mental. Now based on the wild West Coast of Auckland, having moved here in 2007. Scalper is Hip-Hop like you’ve never heard it before. Moody, gritty beats with introspective lyrics that conjure visions of epic proportions, and an electrifying live performance that demands attention.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Scalper

Releases

Want More
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Want
Year: 2017
Type: EP
The Emperor's Clothes
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Butchers Bakers
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Flesh & Bones
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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