Cooking Up Beats in Hell's Kitchen

New York's Ming & FS utilize the rhyme -- and the keyboard, sampler, turntable and guitar -- to create their own hip-hop heaven.

Hell's Kitchen, released on Om Records, offers evidence that Ming & FS do not suffer the same malady. The twosome orchestrated every aspect of the recording at Madhattan, and the programmed beats and electro-themes collide with organic live instruments, including acoustic drums and electric guitar, to arresting, contradictory effect. "Brain Dead Amphibian Twins/Rock Higher" is a good example of the sound: Starting out slowly with a droning horn sample and a pulsing bass line, the track gives in to a vocal sample and breakneck scratching within seconds. Layers continue to unfold as the track devolves into a futuristic-sounding video game replete with Star Wars laser blasts mixed with slayer guitar samples over a bouncing drum-and-bass beat. But unlike a Squarepusher or Aphex Twin, Ming & FS groove throughout. Against a backdrop of electric bass and piano, "Family" (featuring rapper Werdplay) offers a lyric that seems aimed at those who don't quite understand the fusion: "The music we combine continues to run through your mind/The secret to the sweet sound is how I utilize the rhyme."

Ming & FS represent one direction hip-hop might head in coming years -- their sound is at once a futuristic blend of emergent technologies and aesthetics and a revert to the roots of rap. And that's not a bad way to enter the new millennium.

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