Fun^Da^Mental

Seize the Time

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It's a severe pity the original lineup of the group didn't stick around long enough to record a full debut album, but one listen to the horrific phone message from a pissed-off bigot at the start of the album explains why it is any version of the band existed in the first place. Compared to the thrilling audacity of admitted inspirations Public Enemy at its finest, Seize the Time doesn't quite measure up -- Aki Nawaz and engineer Graeme Holdaway aren't the Bomb Squad, and though Nawaz sure wants to sound like Chuck D, he just doesn't quite have the sheer heft and charisma. As a solid listen to conscious and wide-ranging hip-hop action from a different cultural context than America, though, it's more than successful. The use of an array of classical Indian musical samples, as well as Bollywood soundtracks and live contributions on tablas and flutes, acts as both statement of purpose and the basis of attractive new fusions that would gain more popularity throughout the '90s. Strong examples include "Dollars or Sense," riding over a deep, pounding beat and swirling string, vocal, and flutes, and the immediately following "Mother India," a shimmering, sitar- and orchestra-infused number with guest vocals from Subi Shah celebrating famous Hindi heroines. Meanwhile, the open celebration of Allah and Islam throughout the album -- "Mera Mezab" makes for a defiant, proud statement of belief over a weird, attractively minimal throb that turns into a full-on jam -- works other familiar hip-hop tropes and lyrical sentiments into a new lather. Compared to where later Anglo-Asian groups like Asian Dub Foundation would take Fun^Da^Mental and many other sources of inspiration, Seize the Time sounds like a product of its time, but it's still an inspired collection with much to recommend it.

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