Koolism – The Umu

It has been four years since Canberra hip-hop duo, Koolism, released an album and some may argue that the pair has left it too long to capitalise on the success of their last release New Old Ground.

Luckily, the reason for the delay was not due to other projects or time off, but to meticulous planning and creation, resulting in one of the most interesting and original sounding hip-hop releases this year.

The Umu, named after an old underground oven, uses tribal beats and rhythms, led by heavy bass instruments under rapper Hau Latukefu’s lyrical assault. The production is by far the stand out element of this record, the first and strongest track, Hanz High, is the best example of this. Using a solid beat and a bass line that controls the song, this is one of the coolest hip-hop tracks ever released by an Australian artist. As the album continues the tracks have trouble matching the brilliance of the first number but still do not disappoint.

There is a strong element of funk and soul intertwined with the off kilter beats as in Have, Have Not, which also contains catchy chorus hooks provided by Axe Aklins. The other album highlight is the largely stripped back Lovely, which simply contains a minimal bass line and snare heavy beat and is carried by Latukefu’s melodic rhymes. The production shines once again with Get Free which features guest appearances by Uli and Solomon Theta, and uses a range of instruments resulting in one of the album’s most colourful moments.

The record ends with Alone, during which rapping is exchanged for singing and a different, more soulful, side of the duo is shown. Four years is a long time but it is unlikely that any of the group’s fans could have predicted a sound like this to finally emerge, and it is by all means worth the wait.