24-7 Spyz: Harder Than You (London 828167-1/CD) ****

Harder than the rest

HARDER THAN You introduces the world to 24-7 Spyz, a south Bronx quartet with the scars and streetfighting mentality one expects from a band born and bred in an urban battlefield.

Unsurprisingly, Spyz immediately get down with ‘Grandma Dynamite’, a funky pseudo slam that immediately ranks them alongside Fishbone as black crossover innovators. Its metal riffing and juicy beatbox thump is embroidered by a raw, elaborate lead guitar. This provides a taster for ‘Jimi’z Jam’, an instrumental that pays homage to Hendrix without technical sycophancy or other empty gestures, relying instead on unrelenting energy levels to uphold its musical message of veneration.

‘Spyz Dope’ is ‘Grandma Dynamite II’, really, an explosive blend of bloodshot metal funk that combines liberally profane rap with a cockeyed hip hop momentum. ‘Social Plague’ swings out next, a mellower punching bag for the Spyz’s revisionist black metal; the riff-laden segues would do any HM purist proud.

They eventually change tack for ‘Ballots Not Bullets’, original reggae that is not overly compelling but lines up against a fine cover of Black Uhuru’s ‘Sponji Reggae’ on the flip side.

A more intriguing cover choice is Kool And The Gang’s epic ‘Jungle Boogie’, which Spyz infuse with their own ungentle spirit, plugging its funky gaps with sticky, fat riffs. They’re obviously enjoying themselves as they drop an original, politicised rap into the innocent groove, kicking the rhythm upside down its head with yet more slashing acid riffing.

Well, you get the idea. Now get the record.

© Ralph TraitorSounds, 16 September 1989

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