Chapter What?!

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In 1999, Philippine hip-hop/funk band Kulay released Chapter What?!. The band's previous album, 1997's tour de force Vibestation, cemented Kulay's reputation as the Philippines' premier hip-hop band. Kulay's mastermind is Lino "Boom" Dayupay, whose songwriting, arranging, producing, instrumental, and rapping skills are the band's guiding force. Two tracks from Vibestation -- "Delicious" and "Burn" -- were released as singles in the United Kingdom. Due to the untimely death of original female vocalist Jeannie Oakman, new member Angel Jones performs here, along with long-time singer Radha Cuadrado.

While not as immediately explosive as 1997's Vibestation, Chapter What?! is a worthy follow-up. The band turns on the funk, as heard on such songs as the title track, the luscious "Get Down," and the reworking of George Gershwin's "Summertime," called "Summa-Summatime" here. Delicious funk guitar also permeates "Angels & Strangers," "Just Like U," and the gospel-inspired "As If," among others; the guitar is played by guest musicians. "Paradise," with its acid-jazz ambience, features a discordant piano chord progression, walking bass, jazzy trumpet fills, and sparkling vibes playing, and is laid down over fast, techno-inspired drum beats. "Melancholy" is a tender, verse-chorus-verse type of song that goes down well, while "Ask for More" has a touch of Latin as well as a ska influence.

The singing from both Jones and Cuadrado is smooth and attractive; vocals seem lighter and less intense than when Jeannie Oakman was handling them. Chapter What?! is an excellent album and reinforces Kulay's reputation as the Philippines' pace-setting hip-hop band.