Only $5 for an instrumental hip-hop tape, pocket-sized and ready to trade with friends? Sounds like 1980 all over again! This is the sort of tape that brings a smile to the face and makes the cassette resurgence make sense. As Billboard reports, cassette sales rose 74% in 2016 in the U.S. alone. While we owe a debt to Starlord, Already Dead Tapes has made a substantial contribution to this resurgence, releasing a tape every week and rapidly closing in on release #250.
2 Hungry Bros. engage in sampledelic hip-hop, looping beats and string samples in such a manner as to invite rapping (although none is found here). Of the 17 tracks, “No Resemblence” is the one with the biggest opening for an MC. But of course, if this were rap, we wouldn’t be reviewing it. While Recipe for Disaster is not a mix tape, it often comes close to one, as songs of similar tempo are nestled against each other with nary a pause. But the key factor, kicking in strong on Side B, is the array of dialogue samples. At times, the music-sample connection is so strong that it conjures comparison to Fingathing, ironically a live band that uses samples as punctuation and who also sports red, white and grey as its signature colors.
One can construct a narrative if one chooses, but it’s easier to allow the title to imply a loose collection of thematically-minded pieces: doctors, suicidal thoughts (“Act like a man!”), narcotics, war, madmen, ninjas, clueless detectives. It all adds up to a great deal of fun. The crackle, the strings and the beats are dropped into the sonic stew under the watchful eyes of these (hungry) chefs, who have an obvious love for these specific samples. And while few are instantly recognizable, their pedigree is apparent: the not-so distant past, when today’s crumbling buildings were just beginning to show their age.
If there’s any criticism to be made, it’s that the duo sometimes waits too long to change their loops. More dialogue on Side A would have strengthened the overall set, while samples such as the one at the end of “The Wrath” might have worked better in the center. But these are minor quibbles. A Recipe for Disaster is anything but; it’s a soundtrack of the streets that somehow makes the shadows seem less frightening. (Richard Allen)