‘I’m still a lost soul, reppin’ Brighton to the Core’ – The Greenkeepers’ ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’
The Greenkeepers are under no illusions about the power of rap. As Hp spits in ‘Caught Up’, the fourth track on their 2008 album ‘Its not easy being Green’, ‘when life returns to crisis, a word to the wise might provide some guidance’. Dense with ingenious production, slick with smooth vocals and concentrated with Brightonian wisdom, The Greenkeepers dispense such words at break neck speeds.
The hip-hop two piece is comprised of Biji Talls and Hp (aka: H-Props), whose history stretches long before the creation of The Greenkeepers. They first recorded together on the 1999 album ‘From the Gutter to the Light’, as part of the Brighton/London eight man, underground, hip-hop collective The Lost Souls. The group comprised of Casper Wichmann, Dan Thurlow, DJ Reptar, Joe Morris and Mr. J in addition to our duo.
Biji and Hp boast a long list of support slots prior to the release of their first album, ranging from Public Enemy to The Beatnuts, from DJ Q-Bert to Blak Twang. In their first album together, Hp delivers reams of impeccable verse while Biji commands each track with production that starts strong and consistently surprises, avoiding repetition as the album rolls on.
His spotless production is best evidenced on ‘Heavy Rollers’, which features an unstoppable beat, a sizzling kick drum and a blaring trumpet that’s reminiscent of their Brightonian neighbours Rizzle Kicks. It’s pre-chorus’s lurches from tricky finger-picked strings and layered vocals all the way back to heavy bass in a perfect example of production that takes all the right risks.
Hp, meanwhile, administers some of the most molten flow Brighton has ever seen. Track three, ‘Freedom of Speech’, demonstrates his ability to melt from one metre to another seamlessly. Ad libs punctuating the cleanest, best bars on the album: ‘picture everything you’ve said on single reel-to-reel cassette’, ‘if I could check it, rewind and come again, well then I think I’d like to edit anything I had let slip’. While Hp might wish for such a capacity in real life, there is no such need on ‘It’s not easy being green’.
The two come together harmoniously throughout the entire album, but the two’s creative culmination is perhaps best evidenced in standout track ‘Back in your Bag’. One of the shortest on the album, the track packs a punch with some of Hp’s fasted bars perfectly juxtaposing a laid back reggae beat courtesy of Biji.
The album follows a hyper-self-aware form, constantly urging the importance of writing lyrics with meaning while praising rap as the best form to speak one’s mind. While this argument is strengthen as each track takes it on through a different lens, this point’s ultimate proof comes in the strength of a debut album packed with talent.
Words by Kate Bowie