Throughout the last few years, producers have assembled a handful of veteran artists and tried to impress their sounds on some of their favorite voices. Perth, Australia’s Kid Tsunami is very specific in his choices. Although half-a-world away, Tsu is deeply influenced by the 1997-2001 sound that traced the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. His first Stateside-distributed album The Chase serves as an H.G. Wells time-machine back to the days of Timberland boots, and not only yields an incredibly enjoyable listen, but perhaps serves as a reminder to some of these guests about the sound and style the fans are begging for.
With an album inevitably made over e-mail, one might wonder the guidance Kid Tsunami used in making The Chase. El Da Sensei calls back to the That’s Them era, quite literally, with “Take It Back.” The song makes a case for time travel within Hip Hop “‘cause the game is neglected.” The multi-part sample composition complements El with a drum and horn loop, with alternating keys and yet more horns. Similarly, on “Art Of War,” Kool G Rap displays some deft wordplay amidst his street imagery overtop a beat that would likely make Dr. Butcher smile. What’s especially unique about The Chase is that Kid Tsunami is not just another Premo-wanna-be, he’s more influenced by subdued sound that kept beat-digging alive in an era when Master P and Jermaine Dupri reigned supreme. One of the most impressive tracks is the album opener, “Ar Toxic,” with Kool Keith. Over a smooth, digestible beat, Keith might not glue on the wig, but sounds wonderfully post-Cenubites, pre-Black Elvis. Like El, G Rap and Keith, other guests channel glory days, including J-Live, Thirstin Howl III and Percee P.
There are two moments that make The Chase better than just a feel-good producer compilation. Masta Ace drops in for “Twothousand40.” One of the masters of concept delivers a what-if record that looks at legacy, changing sounds and aging, and still bumps. Although Ace has never veered from these type of records in the years since, the song could be easily mistaken for a bonus b-side from Disposable Arts or Long Hot Summer. Like Ace, another B.K. emcee has critically succeeded in the 2000s just as well as the 1990s with “Catch Wreck.” While O.C. has made stellar albums outside of his D.I.T.C. core in Starchild and Trophies, Kid Tsu lays out a beat with vibraphones, scratch-choruses and the lyrical cadence that made Jewelz such an important album to this day. The Australian makes as wonderful a case for true-school Hip Hop A&R as he does accomplished beat-maker.
From Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off to Kanye West’s Yeezus, a lot of albums in 2013 are about defying convention. In a dynamic moment in music, Kid Tsunami holds the line for those still in love with a particular moment in time. The Chase reminds us that things don’t have to change, and that many great artists are still great—with or without the styles that made them that way.