The Extremities – Re:Fresh album review

Some Hip-Hop fans have a herd mentality that prevents them from finding all they can in the ever growing rap arena. Ever since the genre became commercialized, there’s been a divide between the underground and mainstream, a not so thin line separating them somewhere in the sonic stratus. It seems like the staunchest supporters on either side of the proverbial aisle ignore the happenings on the other. An artist makes a lyrically dense project and he’s hailed as raising the bar, as if lyrical density isn’t the minimum for a successful mainstream artist.

Then we have the problem plaguing beatsmiths…for all the hype and adulation versatile mainstream producers receive as geniuses, unheralded acts like The Extremities are just as deserving. The Nova Scotian DJ duo (Fresh Kils and Uncle Fester) behind 2011’s Mint Condition project return as good as ever with their Re:Fresh album. The duo decided to go the remix route this time, re-interpreting 11 different tracks.

The genius in some of their song selections comes with the realization that some of these MCs are not well-known, so the Extremities’ version of their song has the potential to become the standard rendition. The fluttering synthesizers on “Lift Off”, for instance (remixing fellow canucks The Get By) back the lyrics to tell a story all it’s own. This is not a project reliant on superficial cache, in many cases the beats carry otherwise monotonous lyrics.

The group manages to showcase their versatility while still holding true to a general principle. No matter where the musical focus sways, from moody bass on “Like This” to various jazzy, soulful samples on Ghettosocks’ Recreation, the authentically hip-hop drums underneath are the staple that keeps the project beholden to a focused dynamic.

That’s not to say the composition is lacking on this project, the duo manages to transform what could easily be a break-beat fest into the the kind of lush, progressive album hip-hop needs. Even if the DJs didn’t participate as MCs, they managed to be lyrically expeditious. From Wordsworth and Apollo tackling everyman stresses with a defiant glee on the carefree “Morning After” to the introspection on Ambition’s “Lost & Found”, the project plays like a varied work without feeling like an all over the place compilation. Considering every single track has a different artist, that’s a strong testament to the Extremities’ discernment when selecting songs to remix.

Borrowing elements from Jazz, Electro, Soul and fusing it into a Hip-Hop tour de force, this is indeed a refreshing production project.