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Album Review
Home Brew

Home Brew
by Home Brew

Young, Gifted & Broke

Review Date
29th May 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

Auckland hip-hop group Home Brew first hit our radar around five years ago with their Soulchef produced Home Brew Light EP. Since then they've circuitously built an unavoidable buzz through giveaway free download EPs, hilarious viral video clips, raw dog twitter accounts, nationally reported controversies, genuine political protest, high impact live shows and even more high impact after parties. And with the early May release of their self-titled debut double album, they flipped half a decade of buzz into a debut at number one on the NZ top forty album chart; and threw a forty eight hour party in an old brothel. Along the way, Tom Scott, Haz Beatz (Tweetz), Lui Silk and their extended circle of musical collaborators have become in their own way, folkloric heroes on the local music and social networking circuits.

Several weeks after release (and a lot of plays later), it's safe to say that the record is a classic, one to be added to a pantheon of classics with includes Dam Native's K.D.R.U, Che-Fu's 2 B S.Pacific, King Kapisi's Savage Thoughts and The Feelstyle's Break It To Pieces. Deeply personal, Home Brew takes their built up world of contradictory yet human opposites and pushes them to their logical (and illogical) extremes. Twenty one songs deep and divided into light and dark sides, Home Brew represents some of the most articulate, vulnerable and empathetic hip-hop I've heard this year.

Lyrically ideas driven, lead rapper Tom Scott uses the albums ninety so minute running time to talk (and sometimes more impressively than he would admit: sing) his way through street hymns and ballads to life as a government dependant ('Benefit'), alcoholism ('Alcoholic'), suicide ('Bourbon & Coke'), the good and bad sides of drug use/party life, relationships, the political/social state of New Zealand ('Listen To Us') and atheism ('Good God'), while concurrently paying homage to the suburb (Avondale), the city (Auckland) and the country (New Zealand) which have all shaped him. Assisted by rappers Lucky Lance, Lui Tuiasau and Tourettes and singers Esther Stephens, Hollie Smith, Tyna Keelan and Matthew Crawley, Scott renders these tales in a manner which makes it explicitly clear, no man is an island, and we all got more in common than we'd like to admit.

In the production department, with Professor Haz Beatz at the helm, a team of beatmakers and musicians which includes Dandruff Dicky, Christoph El Truento, SiRes, Jyeah, Ben Jamin, Fire & Ice, Chip Matthews, Isaac Aesili and Brandon Haru amongst others, crafts a series of evocative instrumentals, which sit as perfectly measured backdrops to Scott's storytelling. Alternating between boombap/Native Tongue's style production (which is the perfect backdrop for Scott's reflections on the past) and more progressive pieces such as 'Alcoholic', 'Plastic Magic' and 'Fungi/Absence', the production, in mirror to Scott lyrical explorations of the light and the dark, traverses the accessible and the experimental in equal portion.

The end result is easy to access and hard to put down. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have ourselves a new classic.


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