T.O.K - My Crew, My Dawgs
I have never been much of a hip hop fan nor even a R&B fan. I have been able to appreciate surten songs and beats in songs I've heard, but it has never gotten into my musical soul. It has either been too montone or too annoying for me. So when I first heard about T.O.K I had my natural warning sign turned on. But it was something that drew me in slowly and steadily. The reviews was praising them alot. Even my favourite rock journalist. And I must admit it was probably that who made me really try and care about T.O.K, try to see what it was that made them above so many other acts that are around these days.
I had heard their Chi Chi Man, which according to news and articles, has been really big for a year back in their homeland of Jamaica. It was to me a very catchy song and a happy tune that wasn't too bad.
With that song and with the praises in the papers, I took a chance, I went out and bought their CD. I must admit I had some pretty high expectations considering I would never normally buy a rap album. So it really had to be something special for me to appreciate.
And it surely is. From the moment the first listen of the CD was over I have been totally in love with it. T.O.K really blew me away.
It's hard to try and put some kind of label on their music because it is lots of different styles mixed into this pot-purri of vibes and happiness.
Being them from Jamaica obviously they have a lot of reaggae in their style, and most people would probably put this CD under Reaggae in their lists. Or Dancehall. But it is so much more. It is the typical hip hop, it is R&B in it, and it is even wonderful soul and gospel. Because these four guys can really sing. As their The Way U Do The Things U Do shows..a short little a capella song. Made with so much warmth and pure spirit. Makes you think about Boyz 2 Men or something, but so much purer. A black Beach Boys. Why not?
With so much of different styles it is obviously a dangerous way they are going, but they pull it off so greatly. Definitely put pretty much all other bands and artists that are trying to mix these styles, into the back, back room of the class with their heads in shame.
It is a really happy record. Whenever you listen to it you shine up a smile on your face and you feel a really big need of just dancing around in your room or wherever you are. And the most important thing of all, they build every song based on a melody. Just take the aforementioned Chi Chi Man with its childlike chorus (which is said to be inspired by a Christmas carol after all) and a keyboard beat in the background throughout the song.
Or why not the unbelivably happy song Money 2 Burn, which instantly made me think about a song from the musical Greece, which I still havent been able to name though.
But their masterpiece is All Day. A mix of reaggae, rap, pop and african based hymns. Without you knowing it you are within seconds moving your head and upper body like in an indian dance. I can not praise this song enough. Even though I never really like top 10 lists of sorts, considering they always change, but to make you understand I am willing to put this song in my top 10 list of the greatest songs I have ever heard. Cos it has absolutely so much happiness and catchiness in it. And all the styles. They are able to mix it all into this! Just makes the song grow even more above pretty much anything else anyone has ever done. It is that good.
They do have a serious side as well though. I Believe is a warm romantic song about love between a white woman and a black man. Sure, it has been done so many times, and the lyrics can look a bit too corny and soppy. But again, they even pull this one off as well. "She sees me as a person, and not just as a black man"/"I believe love is the answer, I believe love will find a way" And especially thanks to one of the singers, sadly I can not name him, but he sings it with so much passion and with a wonderful voice. You can forgive any soppy lyric when you hear him plead for his love.
It is though not a perfect record.
As most rap artists seems to always do, they have put these short little interludes in. Which to me serves absolutely no point at all. Only frustrating and annoying when they come between two songs.
And the album is maybe one or two songs too long. Saturday for example could have been removed. Not a bad song, but with this company it doesn't really is that good.
Don't miss the hidden song though, the Michael Jackson collaboration from the 80's called Somebody's Watching Me. Back then a great song but they treat it with respect even if they are making fun of it. Just listen to the vocoder in the chorus...T.O.K going Daft Punk.
In all its energy, happiness and loveliness lies an amazing record. Because you really feel it is an album. As most others don't put too much effort in the album feeling, T.O.K have treated this aspect with full respect. And they have made their way into my top list, which is an achivement in itself. Being them hip hop.
So go and buy it, and make your day shine. As the world can be grey sometimes, T.O.K can make it as sunny as life can be.