The Mouse Outfit produce music in that jazzy, funky, happy-hippy hip-hop mode. Rolling out of Manchester, they probably did pretty well at this summer’s festivals, and Step Steadier may well make you feel warmer in these colder months. 16 tracks featuring MCs including Dr Syntax, J-man, T-man and Truthos Mufasa.
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- Step Steadier by The Mouse Outfit
8/10 Keith Pettinger Customer review, 23rd October 2015
To fully appreciate the highs on Step Steadier you need to go right back to the boom-bap rap styles of the nineties. Based on funk and soul samples, the instrumental grooves soon found a live offshoot with funk bands doing the backing. Putting The Roots aside for a second, it's worth throwing out a couple of reference points for the sound.
In '92 The Brand New Heavies released a Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1 - a defining album that saw their acid jazz style meet the likes of Masta Ace, Main Source, Kool G Rap and The Pharcyde. Over a decade later From The Corner To The Block by funk band Galactic did a similar thing with an updated roster with Lyrics Born, Mr. Lif, Chali 2na and Boots Riley to name a few.
And following on in 2015 we've now got the UK equivalent in The Mouse Outfit, founded and run by producers Chini and Defty. But it's the emcees that really shine on Step Steadier, with a handful of stand-out tracks and verses making the LP a dope listen.
It's been a while since we've had Verb T and Dr. Syntax on decks, and hearing their flow here took me right back to a time shifting boxes of wax from a UK hip-hop distributor's warehouse. These guys are golden-era and still killing it, producing some of the best verses we've heard in time. They're joined across the LP by various combinations of Sparkz, Truthos Mufasa, Fox, Dubbul O, Jman, T-man and Ellis Meade handling mic duties.
The first posse cut on here 'Who's Up Next?' features a few of the above and is a definite stand-out, kicking like early Ohmega Watts in flow with proper funk breaks and the chemistry of Lightheaded or Giant Panda.
It's not just Syntax and Verb T that kill it. 'No Stoppin This' is Sparkz and Truthos Mufasa over a jazzed out vibe sounding like reminiscent of Sound Providers cuts from the early '00s and Sparkz does it again teamed up with Fox for 'Sip A Little Bit Of Rum' which is held down by a boom-bap ragga hook.
Fox goes solo with patois stylings for the title track 'Step Steadier' - and it's our favourite on there. The man absolutely DESTROYS his verses, we need to start digging through the rest of his appearances on tracks.
Not quite a perfect record here, as there are some neo-soul moments that sound incredibly dated to our ears, but the up-tempo funk vibes that are pushed out more than make up for it. Might not be a great deal of new ground being broken, but The Mouse Outfit do their thing very well.
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