Putting the Fun Back in Funk
In the early ’90s you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “Cantoloop (Flip Fantasia)” by the London group Us3. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the tune that put them on the map, Us3 is releasing their ninth album, The Third Way (Hand On The Torch Vol II). Over this journey, Geoff Wilkinson has collaborated with many musicians under the guise of Us3 but the one thing that has remained constant over the years is the jazz influence present on most all the records.
“Never Go Back” starts out with a funky, synthy beat. KCB and Tukka switch vocal duties, one delivering a Jamaican feel to the track while the other sounding like Freedom Williams of C+C music factory fame. The next track, “Be Bop Thing” introduces us to another MC, Akil Dasan, who continues to share mic duties with the other two for the remainder of the album. “Be Bop Thing” has more of jazz feel to it than its predecessor and it is here that Us3 shine.
One of the stand out tracks on this album is “Beautiful.” Wilkinson shows off his sampling skills alongside with turntable skills while Dasan remains on point with lyrics like “somebody must have broke your heart into pieces like Reese’s.” The album as a whole has a real chill vibe to it. Although there might not be a Top 40 hit hidden away here, like Us3 experienced with “Cantoloop,” these songs are evidence that Wilkinson is still doing what he loves.
A lot has changed in rap since the early ’90s; gansta rap has come and gone leaving casualties on the wayside, real vocals have been replaced by auto-tuned choruses and rap battles have been transformed into Twitter feuds. These 14 tracks serve as a passage way to better days of yore when hip hop was done for fun, not profit.