Hi Fi Killers


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Seattle, WA, hipsters Hi Fi Killers are masters of manipulation, fearless sonic chameleons who have never been afraid to shake things up, or to transfer their ideology to crystal-clear analog. Their 1998 Jamaica LP proved no exception. Blending their appreciation of American hip-hop ethic with absolutely authentic Jamaican dancehall and dub, the duo came up with what remains the finest effort in their canon. But, far from socking themselves into some drizzly local studio, the Hi Fi Killers have always been quick to point out that they had help along the way, crossing both coasts and oceans in the process. Working first in Seattle with reggae musician Clinton Fearon and then in Jamaica with Studio One producer Solgie Hamilton, the album contains some stunning American-bred reggae. The opening "Like a Lion" is pure dancehall ever so slightly manipulated with classic hip-hop, shot through in unexpected, yet perfectly timed, places. The horn-heavy "Tell Dem" and the rude-boy toasting on "Wrong Man Move" similarly emerge among Jamaica's finest moments. And, where one might expect rough edges between the Seattle and Jamaica sessions, there are none. In fact, the lines are all so beautifully blurred that it's impossible to tell where reggae ends and hip-hop begins, and that is precisely the intention here. Dancehall and hip-hop are nearly interchangeable. The two genres share a common mythology, a point all too often lost on an American market. Thanks then, and kudos for this Emerald City band who, overdub by overdub, and track by track, showed the way.

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