Why Not Re-Invent The Wheel?
London-based producer Geoff Wilkinson attempts to push the hip-hop/jazz fusion envelope with his latest Us3 release, Questions. On this forth album, Us3 depends less on samples and more on the strength of live jazz musicians to create an upbeat lounge feel with a Latin twist.South African singer, Mpho Skeef, takes the vocal lead with a soulful but somewhat generic sound, which makes for a relaxing and easily audible experience but fails to stimulate any new parts of the eardrum. Often times the multiple layering of her voice eliminates any originality from her vocals, making her sound like a glorified background singer. However, when afforded the opportunity as on the track â€šÃ„ÃºWhen Sheâ€šÃ„Ã´s Dancing,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Skeef does show the range and versatility of a bona fide soloist.
At the other end of the vocal spectrum is Brooklyn emcee Reggi Wyns. Wyns fairs better against the production than his female counterpart, offsetting the arrangements of woodwinds and percussion with a sharp and crisp delivery. His words are always on time with the swinging tempos and his socially conscious lyrics are a true asset to the album.
Questions offers a mellow swing that is easy on the ears but can feel a bit generic at times. While Wilkinson has made it a point to do away with samples in favor of live musicians, he still uses familiar riffs and jazz compositions leaving one to wonder what the big deal is. The use of sampled elements may have actually added a little more flavor and depth to the production but Wilkinson opts to take the road less traveled, which is respectable in its own right.