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Album Review: Thundamentals ‘So We Can Remember’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on May 16, 2014

After patiently waiting for five years, Blue Mountains boys Thundamentals are back with their already wildly successful third offering, So We Can Remember. Made up of the trio of DJ Morgs, MC Jeswon and MC Tuka, this infectious yet thought-provoking record is one of the best Australian hip-hop records we’ve heard.

It’s a significant shift in Aussie hip hop. Littered with some brilliant samples, brass sections, sharp lyrics and more. I love the sheer volume of instrumentation we see throughout the album. It seemed like each track featured something I hadn’t heard before.

There’s an ongoing debate about the quality of Aussie hip hop, but it’s safe to say that Thundamentals, a radio and festival favourite for years now, are still on top of that pile.

There is something undeniably clever about So We Can Remember, and it’s not going unnoticed. Debuting at no. 3 in the ARIA charts builds on their entrance into triple j’s hottest 100 at no. 32 last year.

That it took five years to release this record is obvious in the quality of So We Can Remember. The blending of subtly clever, interesting and refreshing rap lyrics with catchy hooks is intelligent, thought-provoking, and at time, downright hilarious. While staying true to the ever-popular genre of ‘Australian hip hop’, the potential for radio success beyond triple j is obvious.

For proof, look no further than the already successful Smiles Don’t Lie. The amount of popular, meaningful and simply great hip-hop love songs to come out of Australia in the last few years could probably be counted on one hand. But Thundamentals succeed where others have failed. Unlike many of the bland, heard-it-all-before rap that the radio churns out each week, Tuka “ain’t just trying to write a love song, ain’t just trying to get [his] f**k on” as he so eloquently puts.

The soulful lovesick tunes are nicely countered by tongue-in-cheek songs such as the gleefully addictive Quit Your Job. Likewise, the head-bopping, foot-tapping Something I Said will bring a smile to hip hop tragics and radio stations alike (it’s on pretty heavy triple j rotation, and already heavily tipped for the next Hottest 100). Equipped with an infectious humming and simple trumpet tunes, these songs don’t take themselves too seriously.

Without doubt, the funniest track on the album is Noodle Soup. It’s about noodle soup. I think it’s some sort of homage to Kanye West (homage? Mockery? I can’t really tell), the boys have managed to lay down some trapalicious beats, epic laughs (“The only beef I got is in noodle soup”), all the while giving me an insatiable craving for Mi Goreng. ‘That shit cray that shit cray, that’s what Jay and Ye would say’ Ha ha ha.

If social commentary is what you want, the album’s darker heart quickly emerges. Much about racism in society is said in The Groundhog Song, as Tuka muses “Call me Peter Pan, I’ve forgotten everything I dream of, have you seen my neverland?” Likewise, the breezy flow of Missing You disguises darker subject material, revolving around father and sons and an inability to escape one’s family. Hold Your Hand, which features Californian singer Steve Clisby is a dark and powerful track which really caught my attention – and my emotions.

The most refreshing aspect of the album is the diversity of sound.From the distinctly jazz inspired Much About Much to Home in Your Head and its Flume inspired backing, and everything in between. But instead of sounding cluttered, it’s arranged perfectly.

It’s the variety and the top-notch production that will ensure So We Can Remember has, and will continue to make a dent in the Australian hip-hop scene. Undoubtedly, it is the best work yet from the trio from the Blue Mountains.

I think Thundamentals have achieved something special in that they’re not purporting the aussie rap stereotypes but they’re also not trying too hard to steer away from it all. They’re taking the sound that is localised and unique, and making it something that everybody can enjoy.

Thundamentals are touring NOW! (But it’s all sold out so I hope you got your tickets already)

Thurs May 1 @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Fri May 2 @ The Corner Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Thurs May 8 @ Flyrite, Perth SOLD OUT
Fri May 9 @ Mojo’s, Fremantle SOLD OUT
Fri May 16 @ The Zoo, Brisbane SOLD OUT
Fri May 23 @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney SOLD OUT

With Cameron Nicholls

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