Onka’s Big Moka
Toploader’s inexplicably titled debut, Onka’s Big Moka, was released last year in their native Britain to great success. The trouble is, there’s nothing distinctive about this album that separates it from releases by other British bands on the market. There has not been another band before Toploader for whom the umbrella term Britpop is so perfectly suited.
The band’s sound is similar to that of Travis, Coldplay, Richard Ashcroft and any number of other British soft rock acts. True, they have some great tunes—this album is packed with potential singles—replete with pleasant verses and catchy choruses that stick in your head all day. Still, one can’t help but feel that there is little musical depth to Onka’s; it is the kind of album that, after a couple of months, will be relegated to the bottom of the CD rack.
There are pretty songs on the album—“Achilles Heel” and “Just Hold On” were both successful singles for Toploader back home. Some songs on the album retain an aesthetic in this vein, others add to more sophisticated elements such as electric orchestration—“Breathe” and “Dancing in the Moonlight” are album highlights.
While the British market may tolerate pop acts that strip acoustic rock of its angst, leaving it a quiet affirmation of joy, it seems that for Americans, without the wow factor of pop stars like Britney Spears and ’NSync, this music may be too understated for mass commercial success.
—Daniel M. S. Raper
One Track Mike
Fome is Dape
Little-T and One Track Mike chose to adorn the cover of their debut album with two toilets. On the inside are more urinals along with the duo scarfing straight peanut butter, gallons of milk and mountains of cookies. The aesthetic of Fome is Dape’s album art says a lot about the aesthetic of T and Mike’s music. This album should not, however, be dismissed as the work of clowns. Rather, the pair of white rappers has produced a delightfully whimsical, eclectic and self-aware album.
Following in the footsteps of Sir Mix-A-Lot and Skee-Lo, Little-T and One Track Mike rebel against standard egotistical, gangster rap. Their mix of creative lyrics and self-deprecating humor creates songs that both impress you and make you smile. Even the album’s title, Fome is Dape (a rearrangement of “Fame is Dope”), plays on this ironic sense of both being a rapper and retaining humility. The duo’s talent is evident in the rhymes, as well as in the breadth and variety of their music. You can hear songs reminiscent of old Beastie Boys to Eminem to Boyz II Men. Little-T and One Track Mike, however, never lose their own style.
Fome is Dape is a refreshing change from most rap albums. The first single, “Shaniqua,” and its accompanying music video showcases the pair’s unique sense of humor. The twosome manage to be inventively humorous and avoid becoming purely a joke. One of the better songs on the album, entitled “J,” deals with jealousy of a former girlfriend in a wryly poignant manner. It is unclear if Little-T and One Track Mike can maintain their street-smart and playful songs in the future. Similar groups, such as the the Presidents of the United States and the aforementioned Skee-Lo, have been unable to sustain the same level of creativity (and popularity) from album to album. Whatever the future holds, Fome is Dape is a promising start and worth a few spins in your CD player.
—John Paul M. Fox