Battle Axe Recs, 2003
REVIEW BY: Jason Thornberry
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/18/2004
The fans that have been with the productive S&M since their early days, and have seen the Canadian hip-hop group swell from a duo to a nearly invincible quartet get another surprise. A new year brings, wait for it, yet another album! Unlike The Fall, or other groups prolific-to-the-point-of-exhaustion, Swollen Members keeps the quality control meter pointed toward HIGH. Why, they re-drafted original member Moka Only, and gained the production and turntable skills of Rob The Viking. And since forming their Battle Axe record label ("our own label, never get dropped") have released three albums, with added instrumental editions of each.
But Heavy is, without doubt, a defining work. An added DVD with each of their videos and a bio given by the members at various stages of a tour pads the package perfectly as they prepare for the superstardom they should already have.
Heavy is perfect. "Paranoia" has Moka Only's unforgettable chorus, Madchild advises you to consider his scrotum a large pacifier on "Watch This," "Therapy" requires at least three-listens-per-day as guest DJ Revolution strings one-sided arguments together, and Son Doobie steps in ready and sweaty for the hidden track. All the while they keep the mood light with between-song crank calls, and a string section straight from grandma's favorite radio station that somehow fits "Bottom Line" impeccably.
This is far from the slanted and enchanted emo-rap of utilitarian dorks like Sole, Sage Francis, or the majority of the Anticon playhouse. Hip-hop groups passionate and confused enough to headbang and stagedive in the middle of their shows are not to be taken lightly. Especially when they're balancing tracks this dangerous. Heavy should establish Swollen Members as leaders of the now school, free from the manufactured drama and cheese of their peers -- they're just warped enough not to require any of it. And being worthy of membership in the legendary Rock Steady Crew shows that the right people are actually listening.