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Shadow Huntaz - Corrupt Data

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Artist: Shadow Huntaz

Album: Corrupt Data

Label: Skam

Review date: Jun. 14, 2004

Corrupt Data is the work of multi-city American rap ensemble Shadow Huntaz (MCs Breaf from Chicago, Dream from Atlanta, and Non from LA) and the Dutch production team of the Funcken brothers (better known as Funckarma). The two groups supposedly teamed up due to mutual admiration a few years ago and compiled the album over fifteen months of email and online file sharing, never meeting in person. While this isn't a particularly novel approach to collaboration, there's something in the players' geographic remoteness that translates into the music itself. Their respective styles mesh satisfactorily – strictly speaking, Funckarma's busy electronica lends itself ably to the MCs' rapid, scattershot flows – but a barrier remains between the two, as though they don't quite belong together.

The album sounds decidedly foreign. The Funcken brothers' production dominates throughout, and since it has more in common with European IDM luminaries like Autechre and Oval than with even the most progressive of American hip hop producers, the rhymes often sound either misplaced or unnecessary. On some of the more unified tracks, like "CDC" and "Power Divine," the rapping resembles the wordstream of those incomprehensible drum 'n bass MCs (or, God forbid, British teenagers like Mike Skinner or Dizzee Rascal), and occasionally the production suits the flow instead, as with the Prefuse 73-style chop-and-paste of "American Dreams," but for the most part the rappers sound American while the beats feel European.

This disjunction isn't entirely problematic: it's easy enough to enjoy the individual elements on their own even when they clash together. Breaf, Dream, and Non turn in valiant verses with the dizzying speed of Anticon regulars and/or the abrasive density of the Def Jux roster, which are worthwhile when they're understandable. Meanwhile, as inappropriate as it can seem under such challenging vocal cadences, the production makes for most of Corrupt Data's highlights, creating dark and meticulous underworlds with gritty half-melodies and glitchy breakbeats. All the same, neither side really makes it to the top of its given style; despite a few memorable lines the rap makes little impression, and on the whole the backdrops are tame for IDM and awkward for hip hop.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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