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Flobots - Fight With Tools

Flobots, Fight With Tools

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AS MAINSTREAM hip-hop continues to be dominated by the big name likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, The Game and company, the better work is often to be found just away from the limelight – or when trying to mix things up a little.

Jurassic 5 remain a fine hip hop outfit, while of the new brigade Gym Class Heroes have found considerable – and deserved – success by blending influences. Another act to genre-cross is Flobots, whose work has been compared to the style of Rage Against The Machine at times (given its rap-rock combination, and overly political point-making).

Fortunately, they go about their business more thoughtfully than most. So, while point-making can sound like preaching, or even pretentious, Flobots’ LP manages to avoid becoming a turn-off and is as cool to say you own as it is relevant and opinionated.

Their biggest hit single to date, Handlebars, is arguably one of the best hip-hop tracks of the year. Disarmingly simple, and built around a chorus of “I can ride my bike with no handlebars”, it builds from a lone, acoustic guitar strum into a sophisticated fusion of rap, horn, subtle beats and strings… not to mention one of the catchiest darn choruses of the year. You’ll be singing along before you know it, especially when proclaiming “I can lead the nation with a microphone”!

Another single, Rise, is empowering without ever sounding condescending – urging people to “rise together”, yet charming them with some sombre strings and an explosion of power over the chant-along chorus.

In its guitar work, it is reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine and even Red Hot Chili Peppers in places – especially on Combat, one of the more instantly funky, bass-driven offerings.

But it’s the combination of vocal observations – not always from the Flobots themselves (check out We Are Winning) – that helps to make the mix so striking, and to confirm Flobots’ Fight With Tools as one of the most appealing and pertinent hip hop LPs of the year.

Buy it and become empowered…

Download picks: Handelbars, Rise, We Are Winning, Combat, MaydayIII

Track listing:

  1. There’s A War Going On For Your Mind – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Mariel Roberts
  2. Mayday!!! – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Joe Ferrone
  3. Same Thing – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Joe Ferrone
  4. Stand Up – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Mariel Roberts
  5. Fight With Tools – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Mariel Roberts, Joe Ferrone
  6. Handlebars – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Joe Ferrone
  7. Never Had It – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Joe Ferrone
  8. Combat – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones
  9. The Rhythm Method (Move!) – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones
  10. Anne Braden – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones
  11. We Are Winning – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Mariel Roberts, Minnie Baldwin
  12. Rise – Flobots, Greg McRae, Kyle Jones, Mariel Roberts
  13. Iraq – Flobots, Kyle Jones