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Pete Philly & Perquisite

Pete Philly & Perquisite

So, when was the last time a hip-hop record caught you by surprise? And what about the last time you heard a concept album you genuinely loved? Combining the talents of two of Amsterdam's most promising hip-hop prodigies, Pete Philly and Perquisite's 'Mindstate', is an album in the finest tradition of trailblazing acts like Blackalicious, Ty and Common Sense.

Soulful, ambitious, thought provoking and brimming with musicality, 'Mindstate' is the fruit of 18 months worth of labour by MC Pete Philly and producer Perquisite, two of The Netherlands' most talented hip-hop ingnues. These men not only merge hiphop with styles as insanely disparate as soul, 60's psychedelica, classical music and broken beat, they actually make it sound effortless. On 'Mindstate', Pete and Perq marshall help not only from vocalists Senna, Cee Major (The Proov) and Jazz musicians Jesse van Ruller (winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Competition / Washington 1995) and Benjamin Herman (winner of the Wessel Icken Prize in 1991, Edison Award in 2000), but also from none other than Talib Kweli, who didn't hesitate to declare Pete Philly & Perquisite to be 'musically (...) light years ahead of the game'.

Perquisite started to create hip-hop-beats in 1996 at age 14, using Fasttracker on his mum's PC. However, playing the cello since he was eight years old, he had always been involved with all kinds of music and later on he started to merge elements of his classical background into his creation of beats. His musical journey led him from travelling through the U.S. on his own as a youngster, to starting up his label Unexpected Records, and collaborating with everyone from accomplished Jazz-musicians like Benjamin Herman to producing tracks for The Proov, one of Hollands' best-known hip-hop crews.

In the autumn of 2002 Perquisite and Pete Philly hooked up for the first time. Philly had by then already built up quite a resume, being widely regarded as one of the tightest, most imaginative rappers in The Netherlands. However, the Aruba-born rapper grew up with a wide spectrum of musical styles ranging from Metal to Michael Jackson. It wasn't until the early '90s, when acts like De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest hit the airwaves, that hip-hop got a hold of him. From that moment on he couldn't be stopped. It's this heady mix of influences that made Pete and Perq click in 2003, when they hooked up once again to make the 'Mindstate' EP that would precede this album. "We push each other," says Philly about the partnership. "We compete about who comes with the wildest, most unexpected sound to add to the mix." Perquisite ads: "You can hear a lot of psychedelic influences on the record and I composed quite a few string-arrangements. But there's also a four-to-the-floor beat in the song 'Motivated'... The trick is to make it all sound as easy and matter-of-fact as possible."

You would almost think that there would be too many ideas to make a focused album. Well, this is where the neat part comes in. See, 'Mindstate' is a concept album and one with a simple premise to boot. Each song of the album deals with one particular mood or emotion, like laziness, gratitude, hope, cockiness and motivation. The tracklisting speaks for itself, yet the songs themselves refuse to take the easy route to deliver the message. Philly explains; "When you set a limitation like that on yourself, you actually force yourself to push the envelope and try to find a new approach to the subject. I write about how I experience those moods and Perq composes a beat that fits to that mood, well at least in his mind."

The result is a sonic ego-document that is stunning in its execution. You'll be hard pressed to find a rapper this side of the Atlantic that manages to convey raw emotion with such a tight and novel flow or a beatsmith for that matter that manages to bring all sorts of styles together in such a lush, laidback, yet dope-as-hell fashion. This is hip hop on a new tangent, an album like a mood ring you can put on anytime you like. The kind you don't mind keeping on the nightstand for a long time.