Review: Gee Bag – Show & Tell
Although a veteran of the underground rap circuit, Croydon spitter Gee Bag has maintained a relatively low profile. However, to those that know, Gee is a firm favourite and highly respected as an “emcee’s emcee”, especially among the South London contingent.
DJ Downstroke, who handles most of the production on ‘Show & Tell’, is also no stranger to the scene. When he’s not spinning at events like Higher Learning and Cypher Lounge, he’s crafting quality instrumentals (check the recent ‘Attack Of The Generic Drums‘).
In early 2013 Gee dropped the rugged ‘Lyrical Digest’ single/video and rumours started circulating about an upcoming full-length. At an ample 14 tracks, ‘Show & Tell’ is an album of the bullshit-free, headnodding hiphop that ‘Lyrical Digest’ and the subsequent videos hinted at.
Although the beats are all firmly in the 90s bpm range, the variety in sample selections make it an engaging listen, with plenty of surprises arrangement-wise. Downstroke takes an approach similar to Bomb Squad and early Erick Sermon, where samples from different sources are layered together to create a fuller sound. Gee flows effortlessly on top with a style that’s simple but devastating in nature.
The LP is solid from start to finish with a number of standout tracks. On ‘Toast Of The Cronx’, Gee enlists fellow Croydon councillors Oliver Sudden and Big Toast for a raucous reunion, giving a taster of the upcoming Gatecrashers collabo project. ‘Feel Free’ encourages listeners to imagine how things would change if their work-life balance was shifted: “What if your week was your weekend and your weekend was your week?/2 days of work, 5 days of sleep” .
‘White Boys’ is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the prevalence of melanin-deficient MCs in UKHH a(including a shout out to yours truly). Another favourite is the closing track ‘Stones Throw’, a mellow necksnapper where Gee exhibits a calm maturity that’s rare amongst his peers: “Back in the day I was your protégé but now I’m getting old and grey.”
In a hiphop era defined by acapella battles, soapbox politics and druggie hedonism, it’s refreshing to hear ego-free, everyman bars delivered with confidence but without overpowering. Downstroke and Gee Bag have that classic MC-DJ chemistry and the singalong/call-and-response hooks give the LP a fun, energetic feel often lost in current rap music. ‘Show & Tell’ is essentially an album that’s difficult to dislike, so try it for yourself!