featured REVIEW


Giant Panda Fly School Reunion Tres • 2005

Maanumental, Chikaramanga and Newman are Giant Panda and they signed to Thes One’s Tres Records. Thes One’s one half of underground act People Under The Stairs and People Under The Stairs is one of the freshest quality groups of the West Coast, creatin hip-hop like it was created in the nineties: dirty jazz loops over boombap beats. And that’s exactly where Giant Panda is takin it; to the nineties. Not to the old school, not to the new school but to the fly school.

To prove their love for that era, they even named a track after it. '90s' is earlier released as a 12" and one of the highlights of the album with the chorus inspired by ATCQ's 'Midnight' (of the 'Midnight Marauders' album, 1993) and the beat crafted as it was created in that era; 'Hookin up the loop, it sounds so amazin', a sparkling xylophone with some ill saxes in the background. After starting with a number of decent songs, the album really gets interesting after this dedication track. 'Sho' Improve' has a hypnotic loop and incredible drums of which the slammin snare 'snaps ya neck, mic check'. As he did in the first track 'One Time', which he produced himself, Chikaramango drops some Japanese lyrics and therefore adds an Asiatic touch to the album. Also 'Grand Prix' is produced by Chikaramango, an up-tempo track of which the concept reminds of Ghostface Killah's 'Daytona 500' (1996). Thes One also produced some tracks. First of all, the minimalistic and old-schoolish, more-like-80's 'Super Fly', with fresh lyrics 'We the black-white-japanese, rapanese, please any crowd round seven seas, MC’s freeze!' and '3rd Party', bringing you that typical PUTS sound; a variety of jazz instruments converted in a hip-hop form. Thes also laid vocals on 'Racist', an obvious theme song for this multi-racial group 'People don’t know how dope Japan is, it’s even fresher than raw fish'. Very nice and versatile is 'Strings' -guess what instruments are laced in the beat- with also a fine piano loop, a dope guitar lick and the same break as on Warren G's 'Regulate' (1994).

Giant Panda brings back the class of ninety-somewhat. It brings to the table the sampled jazz and rough drums of People Under The Stairs, the playful lyricism of Ugly Duckling and elements of other West Coast acts like Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples. This is for hip-hop fans who have their mind set on the present and their ears focused on the nineties. Fans of purified hip-hop will love this, fans of People Under The Stairs will adore it! A very nice debut on a promising label.

POSTED ON 07|06|2005 by cpf

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