Moments in Movement

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The growing ranks of female rappers means that eventually they'll be judged on their individual styles and talents rather than lumped together because they're all women. In the case of Macromantics, aka Melbourne, Australia's Romy Hoffman, comparisons can be made to Jean Grae and Lady Sovereign -- they share a similarly tough but playful persona and rapid-fire delivery -- but Hoffman has a strong identity of her own. She's the former guitarist for Ben Lee's band Noise Addict and cites Patti Smith and the Wu-Tang Clan as being key influences on her style. On her full-length debut, Moments in Movement, Hoffman's collage of hip-hop and punk, Australian accent, and speedy, tongue-twisting cadences give her songs a distinctive personality. Her hyperactive wordplay is the star of the album, whether she's describing herself as the "heroine who leaves your head nodding like you're using junk" on "Miss Macro" or name-dropping Lemony Snicket and Melanie Griffith on "Scorch." While her skills as an MC are undeniable -- particularly on the title track, "Eerily Spookily," and "Bandwagon" -- Moments in Movement's more melodic, eclectic songs are the best. "The Dark Side of Dallas," which features the punk band Ground Components, is a brassy, Clash-y knockout that plays like a miniature gangster movie. It's rivalled by "Locksmith," a hard-hitting collaboration that finds Hoffman trading verses with Sage Francis and samples of announcers' voices saying, "I feel a little apprehensive talking to you about my life with my own voice/Although I think people will relate and understand." Throughout the album, producer Buchman does an able job of keeping up with Hoffman, and knowing when to let her have the spotlight: he creates a cool, spaghetti Western-inspired backdrop for her empowering rap on "Love Thyself" and a percussion-heavy sound on "Vaudevile" that goes toe to toe with her verbal workout. Brash and unpredictable, Moments in Movement is a solid debut from an artist with a unique perspective on hip-hop.

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