HIPHOPSPHERE.COM: “Incidental Noise” is far from an accurate description of the demo recently released by the up-and-coming hip hop trio from Australia, Natural Causes. In fact, one might argue that the title is mismatched with the music coming from the demo, and here’s why:
First off, the cohesive messages intertwined within the lyrics of Phatchance, Raph, and Kai are not at all incidental—they are carefully trained on issues that are worthy of consideration. From the political lyrics of “Freedom Ain’t Free” to the protest against unfair treatment in the workplace heard on “Work”, Natural Causes examines topics that are common around the world today. Then, there are the more personal songs, such as award-winning “One Foot Forward” and instant-favorite “Introductions”. For those hip hop heads that like when emcees are just illin out on tracks, then the “Beatbox Conclusion” is sure to get your blood pumping: Raph and Phatchance spit mean verses against Kai’s beatbox beat, which continually increases speed—the two rapping emcees rhyme faster and faster accordingly. It’s saturated with the type of lines you need to rewind to quench your curiosity of what is being said. Every emcee in the group has their own distinctive voice and style, yet they all have a mastery of rhyming and wordplay.
But perhaps my favorite track for lyrics would be Phatchance’s “Tall Poppy”. Combining the literary devices of extended metaphor and satire, the song is written from the perspective of modern-day evildoers. Lines like, “just look at all these poppies that are strangling my weed-bed” do well to sarcastically expose the twisted mentality of the supposed speakers. Each line serves a purpose for the overall song, but I refrain from giving away the good stuff in my reviews, so I’ll stop here. Just know that to a person who has studied English literature for years on end, this song is an entertaining exhibit of literary style.
The keen lyrics and catchy hooks aren’t the only strong point of “Incidental Noise”. Contrary to its title, the demo demonstrates an excellent selection of musical production, ranging from an 8-bit keyboard beat on “8-bit Symphony” to the jazz-driven “Introductions”. Actually, “Introductions” is a very well-layered piece of music, complete with a jazzy piano and bass, consistent drums, comprehensive horns, a guitar, and more. But it would be a mistaken to take “Introductions” as the only musically-driven track. Producer Lowrez did well in harmonizing a sample with suitable drums when creating the instrumentals for “Work”. In fact, something noteworthy about the track is that Lowrez actually inserted the guitar solo from the original song, while Natural Causes sung a chorus-like segment, saying “we don’t wanna have to work no more” as the song’s definitive line. “Freedom Ain’t Free” is a reggae track, complete with congas, cellos, electric guitar, and a sample among other instruments. For such a protest song, reggae is the prime choice of genre to blend into the hip hop, as it originated from the woes of imperialism and poverty. “Tall Poppy” exhibits a relatively dark instrumental to reflect the almost haunting lyrical content. “Dizzy Thoughts” (which made an appearance on the HipHopSphere.com Mixtape) has some laid-back drums while those on “Be Cheesy” are more upbeat and aggressive. “One Foot Forward” is driven by acoustic guitars and other strings, much like a Sting song. The pre-chorus of the track is refined enough to convey the feeling of Phatchance’s lyrics. The instrumentals aren’t just beats—they’re music.
For simply a demo, “Incidental Noise” can probably compete with major albums on the shelf and still be more appreciated by musicians and hip hop heads alike (not that they are mutually exclusive). The lyrics and music fit each other in every track, whether it’s about having fun or giving insight to troubled times. Solid messages with excellent lyricism meet musical production in the Natural Causes demo. The packaging is also well done by Jess Chick, and it’s nice to know that all tracks were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Phatchance himself, giving the trio a tighter grasp on the creative process of their music. Although they take their music seriously, you could tell that the members of Natural Causes have fun writing and recording, especially on the secret tracks (hint, hint). The best way to describe this all in a nutshell would be to say that these are songs written by songwriters and musicians, not a collection of raps written by rappers. The only problem with this demo is that it is too much of a teaser—we want more from Natural Causes. I am confident, however, that their album will be even more complex and layered than this demo, while maintaining a cohesive feel overall.
My rating for "Incidental Noise" as a demo is 10 out of 10 Spheres. Great work by all involved in the project.
Written: THoT www.officialnaturalcauses.com