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The Nextmen - This Was Supposed To Be The Future

The Nextmen, This Was Supposed To Be The Future

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DOM Betmead and Brad Ellis – aka The Nextmen – joined forces when Brad blagged a remix for London Posse which ended up on Radio1. It put The Nextmen on the map and in 2000 they released their debut album Amongst The Madness on the revered 75 Ark imprint.

Originally intended to be a Mo’Wax-style instrumentals album, their label began sending the beats out to rappers in the States and before they knew it, The Nextmen were hip hop producers, working with Public Enemy, Blackalicious, The Pharcyde and Morcheeba.

Get Over It, 2003’s sophomore album for Scenario, only strengthened their position as one of the UK’s brightest beatmakers. Fast forward to 2007, and The Nextmen release their third studio album titled This Was Supposed To Be The Future.

It been four years coming and the changes in Nextmen’s direction grew out of their DJ sets. This Was Supposed To Be The Future blends together a multitude of genres, going right across the hip hop, soul and dance music board.

“There’s some reggae on there, some dancehall, some soul, and a couple of hip hop tracks. If you look at our DJ sets that’s exactly what we play,” Dom explains.

Unfortunately, while you can’t knock the diversity on show from track to track, it does create a slightly uneven listening experience. When it’s good, it succeeds in dropping some genuinely feel-good beats and melodies, but there’s simply not enough of them.

In fact, by trying to please everyone, Nextmen could easily end up without reaching any particular demographic – a situation that Groove Armada managed to avoid with their similarly eclectic dance album.

The album begins well enough with the future funk and soul of Let It Roll, featuring the seductive vocals of Alice Russell, before dropping a banging, dancehall beat over Blood Fire complete with guest vocals from MC Dynamite.

But even at this stage, the album feels like its keeping up with current dance trends, rather than opting to create something different.

Did No Wrong is a smooth piece of soul featuring Dallas that’s accomplished without really exciting, but the album redeems itself with the extremely laidback Tuffen Up, a song made for basking in the sunshine.

It’s hip-hop and scratching on Knowledge Be Born, another highlight, featuring a slick flow from Kidz In The Hall, and Northern Soul on Something Got You, with Zarif. It’s sultry without trying, cheekily retro and really, really makes you pine for more of this sort of thing.

Sadly, dancehall returns for Concentrate and a sound, for me, which really doesn’t provide much room for anything other than blandness and repetitiveness.

There’s more playing to wine bar formula on tracks such as The Drop and Memory Lane, which are fine without really inspiring, and downright blandness on cuts like Camera Tricks and

But there’s a sunshine vibe surrounding the reggae rhythms and riffs of the party-style Let It Be, featuring Niney The Observer, and a downright funky verve surrounding the second Zarif contribution Move. Title track This Was Supposed To Be The Future also ensures the album ends with a buzz thanks to Zarif’s take notice vocals (yet again) and a crisp beat.

Sadly, for every highlight there’s too much that just drifts over you and that’s a disappointment for artists of Nextmen’s quality. Where they used to be innovative and exciting, they now just seem happy to conform. In Zarif, however, they’ve certainly uncovered a vocalist to keep an eye on. She’s the real reason for listening and the album positively blossoms whenever she contributes.

Download picks: Let It Roll, Something Got You, Tuffen Up, Let It Be, Move, This Was Supposed To Be The Future

Track listing:

  1. Let It Roll – With Alice Russell
  2. Blood Fire – With Dynamite MC
  3. Did No Wrong – With Dallas
  4. Tuffen Up – With LSK
  5. Knowledge Be Born – With Kidz In The Hall
  6. Something Got You – With Zarif
  7. Concentrate – With Dynamite MC
  8. Drop – With Dallas
  9. Let It Be – With Niney The Observer
  10. Move – With Zarif
  11. Piece Of The Pie – With Demolition Man
  12. Camera Tricks – With Sway & Bridgette Amofah
  13. Memory Lane – With LSK
  14. This Was Supposed To Be The Future – With Zarif