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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

The third full-length album from Scottish experimental hip-hop trio Young Fathers is one that has to be heard. Cocoa Sugar, the follow-up to 2015’s volatile White Men Are Black Men Too and 2014’s Mercury Prize-winning Dead, sees the group expanding their already stellar back catalogue, and taking their sound to new heights.

My first impression of this record was how streamlined and tight it is. At a lean 36 minutes, Cocoa Sugar flies by. Contributing to this are the mass of slick pop hooks offset by urgent lyrics and production. There are all sorts of influences present here too – the usual experimental hip-hop edge; a sort of dirty gospel or soul influence, even a hint of pop music.

To build on that last one, album highlights “In My View” and “Border Girl” both feature earworm hooks and choral backing against seamless production. I don’t think that many tracks from WMABMT or Dead could be described in such a way, evidently pointing to an expansion of a winning formula. The same braggadocio and political urgency are present still, especially on “Fee Fi”, “Wire”, or the stunning “Holy Ghost” – the latter of which is driven through complex rhyme schemes and confident emceeing.

Cocoa Sugar is an absolute highlight for Young Fathers – it may be their best album yet. I admire that Young Fathers have been able to stick to what makes them special as a group, while adding and experimenting with the formula.  As with their previous projects, this record is dense, and rewards multiple listens. I’ve found something new to freak about each time I’ve heard this album, and as a result I can’t stop listening. There’s not another group that sounds like these guys, which is such a rare and refreshing comment to be able to make about music in the 21st century.

4.5/5

 

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