‘The Layered Effect’ by US rapper/producer Andy Cooper offers a punchy reminder of the creative fun to be had in digging for breaks, stringing up loops and layering up stratas of sound. Brimming full of delightful inflexions from the world of Jazz, Easy Listening, Film Soundtracks and Hollywood voices, it’s a perfectly stitched sound patchwork that pays loving homage to the classic, funky days of early rap. A touching testimony to the joys of Hip Hop then and now.
More than just the skinny white dude who’s into old school beats, Andy Cooper has won his stripes after a twenty year stint with Hip Hop trio Ugly Duckling, then a couple more hanging out with The Allergies, not to mention the recent release of eight 7” singles, an EP and now his second solo LP. What is utterly charming is how enamoured and respectful he is of how it was at the beginning AND of how it still should be. Far from being the “old timer/delusional revivalist” he describes in ‘Last of the Dying Breed’, Cooper cares not about colour or age, but that rap stays fresh, exciting, competitive, similar to a precious martial art.
For Andy, rap is a noble form. He’s a wordsmith extraordinaire, snappy and audacious, tipping his hat “to all the microphoners who still bring that dedication and expertise to their craft” and choosing to work with equally rapid sparring partners like Blabbermouf and MC Abdominal. Ownership of the genre is a constant theme throughout the LP. Like a contact sport, you punch and fight your way to the mic and once there “no one can take it from me”. Reverance is constantly being paid to the dons that went before, overtly Rick Rubin & the Def Jam crew, but covertly the Reggae sound systems and jazzers of old.
Not a sloppy note or shabby rhyme here. It’s an album that pops and fizzes with quirky beats and funky rhythms from start to finish. With production lines neater and sharper than a pair of sta press trousers, it’s impossible not to be seduced by the sheer buoyancy of the lyrics, beats and intention. A refreshingly entire body of work with no low points, only head-nodding highs. It’s good to stumble across a Hip Hop album that has you giggling, thinking, singing and wearing out the soles of your shoes all at once.