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Far East Movement "Dirty Bass" Perfectly Executes Vision [Album Review]

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One of the many qualities of hip hop in its early days was that the young and novel new genre thrived on experimentation. Hip hop culture was open-minded and ruled by a can-do attitude that was not bound by any preconceived notions. In fact, the very essence of hip hop is that it's not formulated by any one particular sound or visual aesthetic. Steady on the pulse of what's hip and happening, hip hop soaks up the world that it's a part of, and amplifies its observations through music, dance and visual art to ultimately promote a way of life. 

In the late '70s, hip hop culture flourished when boomboxes blasted throbbing bass beats, b-boy crews rocked the block, brass chains were all the rage, cars were spinning on chrome and colorful graffiti writing marked the gritty urban landscape. While hip hop's street culture was saturated with neon and bling, emerging hip hop music was marked by a daring fusion of styles - from rap to turntabilism, and from soul-funk to electronic sampling.

It should come as no surprise that genre-mashing Los Angeles outfit Far East Movement has been deeply inspired by the all-inclusive qualities of early hip hop culture. Initially starting out as a rap group, Kev Nish, J Spliff, Prohgress and DJ Virman have been hugely influenced by the sights and sounds from that era in hip hop. In fact, at one time some fans even referred to the group as the "Far Eastie Boys" to describe their sound. "That's just blasphemy," the group told me later in an interview, deeply humbled by the comparison. "We could never compare to [the Beastie Boys]."

After meeting in high school and playing shows for years in and around Los Angeles, Far East Movement's teaming with The Stereotypes, the hitmaking production team, helped the group up the ante and prep their sound for mass consumption. Together they forged a pop-savvy, futuristic hip hop sound that marked their debut LP "Free Wired." It was a chart-topping effort that was not just about introducing a party-starting, electro-rap sound - "Free Wired" also incorporated an attitude of musical tolerance and freewheeling experimentation that subtly seeped through into the group's styling, music videos and live shows.

Far East Movement's "Free Wired" mindset culminated on "Rocketeer," their hit tune that was co-penned by Bruno Mars about daring to dream and making things happen no matter who you are or where you came from. 

With that meaningful narrative, "Free Wired" established the perfect platform for Far East Movement to further build out their reign. They continue their hit-making ways on their sophomore LP, entitled "Dirty Bass," that was released in the U.S. last week. The album is a not-so veiled tribute to the early days of hip hop with its bold and brassy imagery, genre-blending sound and all-inclusive attitude.

"Dirty Bass" is an action-packed, cohesive body of work that firmly positions Far East Movement right in the epicenter of popular music. The group partnered once again with their pals of The Stereotypes, plus A-list producers like RedOne ("Live My Life"), Bangladesh ("Basshead") and Dallas Austin ("Fly With U"). Far East Movement also embraced the emerging beats of up and comers like Sydney Samson ("Change Your Life," "Ain't Coming Down"), Wallpaper ("Turn Up The Love") and Alvaro ("Show Me Love").

The vocal contributions on the album are as equally compelling with features by Justin Bieber, Cover Drive, Matthew Koma, My Name Is Kay, Cassie and Pitbull who adds an exotic Miami vibe to "Candy." One of the stand out moments on "Dirty Bass" is "Little Bird" that samples Feist's "Caught A Long Wind," which once again perfectly demonstrates Far East Movement's mash up mantra.

"Dirty Bass" is a highly accomplished album that features an instantly infectious global pop sound. But its true achievement lies within the fact that Far East Movement are masters at executing their vision without ever skipping a beat. Taking cues from the glory days of early hip hop, "Dirty Bass" puts out a vision that transcends genre, race, age or orientation. It's a block party celebration of great pop music where everyone's invited.

Dirty Bass - Far East Movement

June 18, 2012 | Permalink