Independent music label Hand’Solo Records knows how to tap into the spirit of the ’90s. The music label has created a Megazord of talent with super group, Backburner Crew. The crew made up of; Timbuktu, Wordburglar, Savilion, Ghettosocks, More Or Les & Chokeules, and more pulls out head-nodding rhymes to oldschool boom bap beats. Backburner’s “Spice Rack” continues on that tradition.
While the skills of the Hand’Solo Records roster may vary, the Backburner Crew is a showcase of some of their best talent. Rightfully so, as the members average roughly around 18 years in the Canadian music scene.
Backburner’s “Spice Rack” is lyrical-miracle raps at its best. Each emcee compliments one another trading verses that make you feel like you are listening to the illest ’90s college-radio cypher.
There is of course clever wordplay references to spice and flavour. But while the flows sound effortless, there are slight bumps in the road as references sound dated (really, a Suge knight hanging Vanilla Ice reference in 2021?). Though the Salt Bae reference was a nice touch.
The hook works and I can imagine this being a hit at live shows when the crew comes together.
The production by Savilion who appears on the track himself, sounds like it borrows strings from traditional Persian music making it sound exotic enough to warrant the title “Spice Rack.”
My biggest complaint is that the effort to sound worldy is artificial. The rappers talk about their time spent touring abroad but there is nothing notable or unique about their references to foreign lands. In a world where the term “world music” is becoming increasingly problematic, in favour for the more inclusive term global music; “I been around the world and all that junk” is no longer a throwaway line, it reflects as culturally dismissive.
I understand that Backburner’s “Spice Rack” is meant to be a fun posse cut. But really it’s indicative of a larger problem of aging emcees staying stagnant and not growing passed the music they grew up on. I would have appreciated a unique cultural reference or two, as demonstrated by artist Raz Rabin whose music appeared on episode 64 of the podcast, with his song “Getaway.”
Maybe I’m expecting too much. I like all these artists. They sound dope on this beat. Each rapper sounding more confident than the last.
But my duty as a critic is to explain how and why they should evolve. These artists are all vets in the industry at this point. Despite my issues with the track, “Spice Rack” is a triumphant posse cut. Each emcee has earned hard-won respect. Lasting this long in the industry is no easy feat.