One of the major advantages of spending one's childhood growing up in a small Welsh village is being surrounded by a plethora of musical talent. During my time, I have been enamoured by Feeder, enchanted by Catatonia and obsessed with Stereophonics. I even had a brief flirtation with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. One band though that stand out from the rest and were unavoidable during my adolescence were satire-laden rap collective Goldie Lookin Chain (or GLC as it has come to be stylized). The band became notable for their seemingly endless line-up, their devil may care pre-match performances and their commitment to whimsical lyrical mastery – who can forget the immortal “guns don't kill people, rappers do//I seen it in a documentary on BBC2”? Their latest album is Fear Of A Welsh Planet and it certainly has something for everyone.
After a brief Robbie Williams bashing intro, the album launches into the infuriatingly catchy Chicken Soup which provides a viable alternative to Kelis' much-lauded Milkshake. I Got A Van slips into a disco vibe for a track that is as hilarious as it is sleazy and its surprising interjection of the word 'intercourse' literally had me spitting drink from my mouth. It's The Law Of The Streets is what I imagine the output would be if Shane Meadows worked for the DVLA marketing department. For those of you currently enthusing about Stranger Things season two, why not soundtrack it with the marvellous Netflix In Bed, a tribute to online streaming or perhaps a subtle cautionary tale?
That's not to say there aren't (marginally) more serious moments to enjoy. Title track Fear Of A Welsh Planet is a reverence of all things Cymraeg. A Welsh name-checking goldmine, there is something upliftingly beautiful about its sardonic patriotism. As a nation, I believe us Welsh to be prouder than most and I would firmly back a campaign to have the track installed as an official first reserve national anthem should Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ever relinquish the role. Six Feet Tall sits as an ode to former band mate Maggot, who left the group in 2014. Whilst still establishing a strictly tongue in cheek approach, there is also something quite touching and heartfelt about its reminiscences. Not ones to remain in the same groove for long, it does segue into the frighteningly frank Sex People which is a song you might want to skip if your Nan's in the room.
There are two things driving my enjoyment of this record. The first is an inevitable sense of nostalgia. Hearing Goldie Lookin Chain once again after a long time away and appreciating how loyally they have stuck to their niche takes me back to a simpler time of school discos and Smirnoff Ices where it was me and my trusty Nokia 3210 (original, not the modern reissue – posers) against the world. I moved away from Wales when I was eighteen and, whilst I do miss the mountains and countryside, the real memories that I have taken with me are shopping in Cob records on Bangor high street, eating massive chip butties at Pete's Eats in Llanberis and getting into the Octagon underage. Those simple recollections have found a home in the humility of this album.
The overriding reason though why this album tickled my fancy is its delightful positioning as a rap antithesis. It is to Dr Dre et al what Spitting Image is to UK politics – unadulterated piss taking – and there will always be a place for that in my book. If rap and hip-hop music are the sullen hard kids at the back of the bus then GLC are most definitely the class clowns. They take a segment of music that moved past taking itself far too seriously in the nineties and hold it beneath a spotlight of absurdity to magnificent effect and with an innate intelligence that they don't get enough credit for. Lyrically sharp, musically diverse and charmingly down to earth, GLC have released an album which is part mockery, part homage and wholly entertaining. Whilst it may not make the year end lists for this year, I defy anyone to find me an album that has a better laugh per minute ratio and, in a world where each news story feels like another step towards our ultimate demise, perhaps having a laugh on a Welsh Planet is not a bad way to wait for the apocalypse.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
“We don't go to Center Parcs, cause we've got Blue Stone//We'll take you to our leader, he's called Tom Jones”
Fear Of A Welsh Planet
Put ha ha into hip hop
Start Welsh takeover
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