This is a review of "Stripe Two" recorded by Tiger Shadow. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2010.
One of the most exciting and original acts knocking around Leeds at the moment, it's hard to know where to begin when it comes to Tiger Shadow. Thankfully, they make things a little easier by serving up an opening track that neatly encapsulates everything that's great about this band.
Three notes in, and EP-opener 'Inner City' stands out from the crowd, as frontman Komla MC's unusually bass voice and loose, laidback style of rapping go against the grain of hard-edged mainstream hip hop. Then, there's the lyrical content, which is intelligent and socially aware and, finally, there's the dark, urban vibe that swarms through every second of this song. 'Inner City' is a bleak, urban soundscape about "inner city life." Consisting of long, buzzy electro notes, this song will creep, crawl and coil its way into your cerebral cortex. After winning the listener over with its insidious funk, 'Inner City' throws the listener a shred of hope, in the form of an end-section of trembling violins and a sparkle of Mediterranean-tinged guitar-plucking. This is a tale of modern woe that's all too easy to identify with.
The other two songs - 'Gambit' and 'Good Times' - don't quite pack the same punch. Second track 'Gambit' may feature more clever wordmanship than your average Top Ten combined, but the darkly hooky hip-hop-meets-electro groove of 'Inner City' is sorely missed. 'Good Times' fares better, serving up another impossible-to-categorise musical pick-a-mix, where bright synths swirl around the song's slick central rhythm, and Komla MC rattles out those tongue-tying lyrics like a man possessed. Again, 'Inner City's is this EP's high-impact track, but this playful, pattering genre-mangler is still pretty catchy.
As Tiger Shadow say themselves in 'Gambit,' they are the antidote to mainstream hip hop; taking one of the most commercialised genres and making it feel meaningful and relevant to the everyday music fan. Tiger Shadow are a band to reaffirm your faith in hip hop.