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Sole and DJ Pain 1 - Death Drive

  by Mark Rowland

published: 17 / 6 / 2014

Sole and DJ Pain 1 - Death Drive
Label: Africantape
Format: CD


Old school and political rap with modern beats on enjoyable album from American rap artist Sole and successful producer DJ Pain 1

‘Death Drive’ is a crowd-sourced collaboration by one of American indie rap’s most prominent figures, Anticon Records co-founder Sole, and “certified platinum” producer DJ Pain 1. The aim for ‘Death Drive’ was to create an old-fashioned political rap album: “'Death Drive' combines modern pop/rap aesthetics with the political edge reminiscent of hip-hop classics such as ‘Fear of a Black Planet’. Sole and DJ Pain 1 utilise the golden era hip-hop approach of a rapper and DJ without employing gimmicks or rap cliches typical with more formulaic two-turntables-and-a-mic unions.” Death Drive delivers on the duo’s aims, an album that evokes an older era of rap while also nodding at modern rap tropes. It’s nice to hear a bit of old-fashioned scratching, and Sole’s political voice is as sharp as ever, but it’s the moments when the pair fully embrace modern rap that it really shines. The synth-lines on ‘Baghdad Shake ‘could be the only club banger to address America’s activities in the Middle East. ‘Death Drive’ flits between old and new school rap sounds, which gives it a bit more of a mixtape sound, though it holds together. ‘War’ is a rare misstep, harking back to that old, much maligned hybrid genre, the rock-rap crossover. ‘Rap Game Darwin’ is a more successful, employing a light-touch rock edge that doesn’t overpower the track. Coal’s 80s arpeggiated synths and resigned vibe is a highlight, followed by one of the album’s lowlight, Hey Liberals; a good idea on paper (a ‘sexy jam’ love letter to liberals, imploring them to do more than talk), it’s too silly to really get the message across. So it’s a mixed bag, but successful for the most part, and the combination of old school protest rap with modern beats refreshes both approaches when it works.

Track Listing:-
1 Death Drive
2 The Gauntlet
3 Don't Riot
4 Baghdad Shake
5 War
6 The Janitor's Son (with Pedestrian)
7 Rap Game Darwin
8 Coal
9 Hey Liberals
10 Y.D.E.L.O.
11 Old Gods Ain't Dead (with Andrew
12 Unscorch the Earth
13 The Teachings of Cube

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