New Kingdom

Heavy Load

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One of the dozens of hip-hop groups signed in the early-'90s alt-rap feeding frenzy, this little-known duo is probably most notable for its seminal work with producer Scott Harding (aka Scotty Hard), who went on to work with artists like the Gravediggaz and Prince Paul. The first two tracks start their debut album off rather clumsily, with an in-your-face Beastie Boys-meets-Onyx vibe that falls a little flat. But by the time "Frontman" rolls around, with its relaxed Cypress Hill-influenced stoner vibe, they seem to have settled into a more comfortable groove. Songs like "Mad Mad World" and "Mighty Maverick" work especially well, with Sebastien's trippy spoken-word poetry matching the psychedelic musical backgrounds to create the drugged-out feel the band seems to strive for. And the freaky, funky effects of "Are You Alive" and the extremely goofy "Calico Cats" are so damn effective, you wonder why they bothered with the grating shtick of some of the earlier songs in the first place. Ultimately, Heavy Load shows an awful lot of promise, but all too often New Kingdom fails to deliver.

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