Pete Philly & Perquisite


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The most amazing thing about Pete Philly & Perquisite's debut record, Mind.State, is that despite the laid-back beats, the jazz saxophone, the guest appearance by Talib Kweli, the East Coast groove à la Native Tongues, is that the duo is actually from the Netherlands, and not some grimy U.S. metropolis. But both MC Pete Philly and producer/arranger Perquisite must have studied their hip-hop idols carefully, because they sound authentically American. Mind.State, which was first released in Europe in 2005, is a kind of loose concept album, with each song (minus the intro) describing an emotion that is put into context and explained by the MC's rhymes. For the most part, Pete Philly does a good job at portraying each sentiment (and this is disregarding the fact that every track except for "Relieved" has a hook that contains the song title), moving from the funky "Insomnia," which has a bassline that sounds like the pounding of tired, red eyes, to "Mellow," about being comfortably in love, to "Respect," with its clearly purposefully chosen Middle Eastern/Indian-inspired beats and lyrics about "corporations taking way more than they need." There are some discrepancies, like the suitability of the lyrics in the title track, which talk of being "torn between ups and downs" and seem more appropriate for "Conflicted" feelings, and "Cocksure," which finds Pete Philly boasting about his rhyming and sexual talents, contains the unfortunate line "lean, green, mean, rap writing machine," which should never make anyone confident in anything except perhaps the power of vegetables. Nonetheless, the MC is pretty solid, and his nicely syncopated delivery, a mix between Talib Kweli (it's no wonder he agreed to be involved in a song) and John Forté, is refreshing and fun. Even more impressive is Perquisite, who adds guest musicians on saxophone, percussion, and guitar, as well as his own piano and cello, to his chilled-out jazz beats, coming up with something that is interesting and always fits the mood of each song. European or not, Mind.State is an album that is sure to impress underground hip-hop fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

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