There shouldn’t be much confusion in realizing the ever-developing role of hip-hop music. Many have turned it into an alternative new world where guest artists, samples and desire come together for a blissful, motivating presentation. As Sole, Tim Holland has continued to use these aspects in being the chief proponent to his band’s driving music. And now with his third release alongside the Skyrider band, and first album since leaving Anticon, Hello Cruel World proves Holland hasn’t lost much in terms of creativity.
Whereas the past experiences showcased Holland much more embellished and free-wheeling with his flow, Hello Cruel World places a focus on the lyrical content with a flow that ends up being much easier to follow and in turn, far more accessible. Even with a varied sense of guest artists, Holland is able to take each one and turn them into entirely complementary parts. On the opening “Napoleon” Holland sings about the cold shoulder and the quiet swirling around us – disallowing us from sleep sometimes – with vocals provided by Xiu Xiu of all people. The music encases the method and frame of thought that Holland is portraying; with a fluid presentation, it all comes off as a worthy experience.
Later on the lead single title track Holland takes a rolling drum pattern before promptly fusing it into a dark and menacing melody that transcends the melancholy state of mind Holland is riding. His Skyrider Band does well to aid in his ambitious dreams – even after leaving Anticon Holland has decided to never shred an ounce of integrity for marketability. The songs take form through Holland’s seemingly troubled MCing: rapping about moving through the daily struggles, why some dig into pleasurable quick fixes and how it is, for many, a desolate cruel world. And even where there is something titled like “Vaya con el Diablo,” translating into “Go with the devil,” Holland fills the walls with bombing beats that highlight the gritty feeling. Featuring Ceschi, Isaiah Toothtaker and Mestizo, the corresponding artists make for a challenging new timbre in the music’s tones and serving as the penultimate song, a great release.
Approaching certain dark clouds always comes with its fair share of detractors, on “Bad Captain Swag” featuring LILBTHEBASEDGOD and pictureplane, the music is supported by a string melody and a great whirlwind of synths. While the keyboards act as filler for the song’s almost stagnant beat, the guest artists continue to impress with timely additions. Although there is an obvious lack of musical identity, especially on the intensified “Home Ain’t Shit,” Hello Cruel World does well to recover with Holland’s embattles spirit. On “D.I.Y.” the music clamors with an almost metallic overdub and mysterious atmospherics that leave everything labeled with intrigue. Production often changes with each song, either making use of a dubbed approach but on “D.I.Y.” Holland fills the anger with a pairing of hyper-fueled drums and snares. It’s reason to take note of and for any that has enjoyed anything from before, Hello Cruel World is surely a solid release.