The Urban Sophisticates' Classic Material | Record Review | Indy Week
Pin It

The Urban Sophisticates' Classic Material 


click to enlarge 1001musrevurban.jpg

Regarded as one of the finer (and only) hip-hop crews in North Carolina to be built around live instruments, The Urban Sophisticates was once easy to reduce into an organic party band—as I did seven months ago in the Independent—and call it a day. On Classic Material, however, the Greensboro group stretches its boundaries, working with Dutch producer Nicolay (of The Foreign Exchange), broadening its sonic palette in general, and upping the braggadocio of its rhymes.

After an obligatory spaced-out intro, Classic Material kicks open with a trio of surefire party anthems: "Head Nod Hood Rock" pits a pair of recurring trumpet and guitar riffs with a Dead Prez-lite beat. "Ready, Set, Go" is a Roots-style jam with tense, palm-muted guitar, more horns and plenty of swagger. Lead single "First of the Drinks" is almost entirely devoid of the band's usual instruments, bouncing instead along a skeletal beat built upon a snare snap. The lonesome trumpet accent is a terrific touch.

Though the move toward more traditional production bridges the Sophisticates back across the gap toward mainstream hip-hop, there's still plenty of variety on Classic Material. Gospel influences, for instance, shine through on the aptly named "Higher," which exits through a marching band coda of drums and horns. An extended, jazzy segment introduces "Dance With Me" with upright bass and brushed snare, though Aaron James' soulful vocals eventually lead the way into brassy Latin territory more fitting of the song's title. "You'd Stay" takes a smooth ride along a simple snare-n-bass beat, as moody keys and a distant trumpet wrap beneath a female vocal hook. It's the five-piece band's first heavy exploration of electronic beats, and—thanks largely to Nicolay—it works.

The Urban Sophisticates has been around long enough to build a solid identity as a live hip-hop act. On Classic Material, though, the quintet branches out while thankfully maintaining its own identity.

The Urban Sophisticates plays an album release party at Cat's Cradle Saturday, Oct. 4, with O Period at 9 p.m. Urban also plays a 1 p.m. set at the Jordan Lake Arts & Music Festival that afternoon.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review

Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Love it! All the songs are beautiful!

by Jon Champion on Record Review: The Return of The Veldt, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation, Is Great (Record Review)

This release will be available Friday December 4th here:

Thanks! …

by Scott Phillips on Review: The electronic excellence of GNØER's Tethers Down (Record Review)

You should have let Currin write this. One of the best singers on earth and these were your observations? sounds …

by Remo on Record review: Jeanne Jolly's A Place to Run (Record Review)


© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation