Album Review: Man Made Mountain – Congo Square

congosquareWhat comes to mind when someone mentions “hip-hop”? Would you think of an early 2000’s 50 Cent track? Or maybe even a rap about driving in a nice car? As an audience, it is rare that we find artists and bands that not only break through and challenge the boundaries of their genre, but also re-define the genre itself. One of these bands, are hip-hop duo Man Made Mountain, which is comprised of House of Beige’s Cazeaux O.S.L.O (Dominic Wagner), and Aria Award winning producer, Billy Hoyle. The two have performed alongside artists like Dylan Joel, Remi, Mathas, and Common. Both being infatuated with Brazilian culture, food, celebration and music, they’ve infused the lively, upbeat and tropical sounds of Brazil into their soul, jazz, RnB and hip-hop music in their new EP Congo Square. This EP uses a lot of sounds that are influenced by many different genres that may seem to contrast with hip-hop but surprisingly, they merge together quite pleasantly along with Cazeaux O.S.L.O’s very gruff and low pitched voice.

The second track on the EP, self-titled ‘Congo Square’ has the most samba influenced sounds that accompany the saxophones and the danceable rhythms. Its jazz and samba inspiration is similar to material that Drake would produce – music that merges culturally significant genres with modern sounds, but keeps it lively and fun. This is similar to the following track ‘Cachaça’. The track is slower than ‘Congo Square’ but it still keeps it cool. Similar to Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, the song is edgy, cool and laid back and feature artist, Tom Scott’s back-up vocals is catchy and provide elegance to a song that has a rapper with a deep, husky and aggressive voice.

The fourth track, ‘Master Plan’ is one of the slower tracks of the EP. The song is bouncy, mellow, tranquil and relaxing. The track uses a lot of RnB and soul references to the point where it becomes a nostalgic experience. It reminds you of an old RnB track from the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. This is similar to the fifth song ‘Pot Liquor Brew’. The beat is groovy, bassy and slow with some references to slow jazz. This track would make you think of music that Outkast would make if they collaborated with electronic and jazz producers like ZHU.

This debut EP showcases and displays the amount of talent that this duo has together. Collectively, they’re able to infuse different genres and music to create their own sound. This project includes samba, hip-hop, rap, soul, jazz and RnB influences that may seem to contrast, but actually compliment the tracks. The EP also illustrates their ability to create nostalgia with the audience, to be able to captivate listeners using music from the past. I expect to see more great things coming from these boys in the near future.

Review by Peter Stewart