Hilltop Hoods

The Calling

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The Calling is Hilltop Hoods' third album, and the first to achieve the crossover success in Australia that they deserved. The first single, "Testimonial Year," introduces the group for new listeners; the two MCs, deep-voiced and witty Suffa, and quick-to-anger Pressure, trade verses like boxers trading blows over beats by DJ Debris, while Suffa doubles on production. "Dumb Enough?," while it comes from the well-plowed field of how stupid the rappers' opponents are, is delivered with self-deprecating flair and humor. Suffa raps, "I'll make origami of your lyrics," and Pressure throws in, "Geez, that's good Suffa. What is it?" In his tough guy voice Suffa deadpans, "It's a swan." The battle rhyme over beatbox of "Simmy and the Gravyspitter" is obviously a studio joke, the closest they come to rap's ubiquitous skits, but it still manages to sound harder than other MCs' entire albums. It sets the stage for "Nosebleed Section," a shout-out to their ideal audience that features flutes and a chipmunk vocal courtesy of Melanie, a sound since imitated by others in the Australian scene. That's only fair, since the song steals its shoutback dedicated to Suffa's ex-girlfriend ("Bitch!") from Sage Francis' "Rewrite." At the tail-end of the album is "The Sentinel." Showcasing the Hoods' flair for storytelling, it tells a tale of the perfect pub, which only has one downside -- you can never leave. It's the hip-hop "Hotel California," in the best possible way. An over the top work of pure fantasy, it abandons the formula of authenticity in favor of the lyricism that is their trademark. As Suffa says, "I'm done keepin' it real/I keep it relevant."

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