Published Jan 01, 2006Three years after turning the world on to their distinctive combination of sharp melodies and breakbeat assault, Reprazent's concept remains the same. "We just want to contribute to the flip'," says leader Roni Size. "Something that's going to set things off."
The crew's latest album, In The Mode, is probably the most aggressive expression of drum & bass to be heard this year. Its bass-twitching lines flex a nasty bite, while the beats hit fast and hard like bullets in a John Woo flick. The pressure runs consistently on high during tracks like "Switchblade" and "Heavy Rotation," and gets particularly intense on the "Eye of The Storm," when Rage Against The Machine's Zack de la Rocha unleashes his lyrics with a cyclonic flow. On one hand, the abrasive mood suggests that the Bristol bunch has gotten angrier since debuting with New Forms as well as the Reprazent-related projects that followed in its popular wake, but Size disagrees.
"I wouldn't say it's angry. It's more expressive than aggressive. There's also a lot of soul and confidence." That said, it's the combination of those last two elements that fuels In The Mode with its menacing attitude, thus bringing Reprazent's vibe closer to the rough-neck demeanor of hip-hop and dancehall, rather than drum & bass. It's no surprise then to find MC Dynamite dropping rhymes on most of the tracks alongside contributions from Rahzel ("In Tune With the Sound") and Method Man ("Ghetto Celebrity") although at times their wordplays get too caught up in the ill-ness of macho braggadocio. But for Size and company, such arrogance isn't necessarily negative; it's an MC's most immediate access to self-inspiration when faced with that urgency to "reprazent."
"The best lyric for me," defends Size, "is act like Erin Brockovich/You know that means apocalypse' (on Ghetto Celebrity'). Because I think Method Man is aware, that by him stepping on one of these tracks here, his fans are going to think Is he a junglist? What's he doing?' Or even for himself, What am I doing?' You're going to have that air of confidence around you then, and that attitude just says Yeah, but I'm going to do it anyway."