Cooly G

Playin Me

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Although anyone paying attention is likely to very quickly peg Cooly G as a British artist, the exact reason may be harder to pin down: yes, there are clear hints of garage and U.K. funky in her beats, and more than a smattering of grime -- and then there's her accent. But her music doesn't fit cleanly into any existing stylistic category and her voice is often dubbed-up to the point that her accent is hard to pin down. The real giveaway may be that very eclecticism -- her very British unwillingness to let any single strain or tradition of dance music take over and define her work. This unwillingness is what has made the clubs of South London such a petri dish of exciting music over the past two decades, and Cooly G's debut album is a perfect example of what can happen when a deeply gifted artist refuses to let her talents be artificially fenced in. Compare, for example, the dubby abstraction of "Come into My Room" (in which the only beat is generated by reverb and the words are almost impossible to make out) to the almost jazzy groove and the straightforward romantic invitation of "Landscapes." Or contrast the skanking reggae backbeats of "Sunshine" with the gently booming and sturdily funky "It's Serious." Interestingly, a couple of tracks credit guest artists, but it's not generally clear what the guests contributed -- not vocals, apparently. In any case, Playin Me offers a fascinating and colorful palette of sounds, beats, and textures, sometimes slightly baffling but always interesting.

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