What a shame there wasn’t a nice old-fashioned interfering record company around to trim the fat off Wanna Snuggle’s twenty-odd track length into the lean mean fourteen track hip-hop machine that I created on iTunes. Still, that’s what it’s all about these days isn’t it? The digital age has brought the power to the people. Apathy no longer needs a record company (this is self-released) and I have the power of an executive producer. On the other hand – while Ap might not be paying a middle man you can bet that somebody somewhere will have posted this up for free download until the mp3 police catch up with them. Number of copies downloaded? Who knows? Money received by Apathy? Zero. Then there are chumps like me who (call us old-fashioned) still want to play stuff on vinyl – like album promo single and total banger Shoot First which features B-Real, harks back to the glory days of early Cypress Hill and was released for free download a while back. Apparently not even Apathy knows if there will be a vinyl release. Consequence? I go and press up a dubplate. Cost to me? Ironically, about the price of an album. Money received by Apathy? Zero (at least directly) which is technically piracy but then it ain’t for sharing or resale and when I play it on the wheels of steel I’m arguably generating publicity for Apathy. And just like there isn’t a 12” of that track available; there wasn’t an executive producer around which means a review of Wanna Snuggle takes all the tracks into consideration. Which is why this is getting four stars and not the five that my infinitely superior fourteen-track edit would have done.
As is de rigeur these days, there are more collaborations on this than solo tracks. Admittedly, the best of these rank among the best hip-hop released this year, the aforementioned Shoot First for example, the Blacastan-featuring boom-bap of On And Off The Mic and especially the two cuts on which Holly Brook features. The first of these, No Sad Tomorrow, has a chorus which sounds like it’s based around an old sixties folk/ psychedelic rock sample and if there was any justice would already have trounced any hip-hop currently in the charts. On the other hand, the second, Victim, is the last thing you’d expect to find in the charts and is quite possibly the creepiest hip-hop track I’ve heard in a while with a vocal hook from Brook that is all the more chilling for sounding so mournfully innocent. Little Brother’s Phonte (who seems to have taken over from Busta Rhymes as ‘guest-spot slag’) once again sounds better on True Love than on any actual Little Brother release, and King Magnetic does a decent turn on the Amil sampling Anyday
Production is solid and there’s a range of musical avenues explored on here – including heavier funk-backed boom-bap tracks although the predominant sound is big band strings and horns which mainly works well though not always. J-Live vehicle This Is The Formula is just tedious, for example. Also, Apathy might want to make a mental note not to try and sing (as he does on Hell’s Angel) where he sounds like a dead ringer for Awol One. In fact, he even sounds like Awol One when he’s rapping on that one.
Translated into old money: there’s easily an album’s worth of worthwhile (and occasionally classic) stuff on this album but there’s also an EP’s worth of stuff that should’ve been (and would’ve been back in the day) relegated to an outtakes and b-sides collection.