By Mark Jenkins
Friday, December 14, 2012
The mashup, which combines two or more songs into a new one, can yield radical reinterpretations. But mainstream mashers like the Hood Internet tend to play it safe, careful not to bruise the original tunes. The Chicago duo continues that gingerly approach on its first post-mashup album, “Feat.” The result is respectable but rarely innovative.
Like the group’s earlier work, “Feat” is stitched together from contrasting ingredients. The difference this time is that the materials have been made to order and then combined with backing tracks crafted by the Hood Internet’s Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell. The twosome’s usual strategy is to pair a rapper with an indie-rock act: Cadence Weapon alternates with Class Actress on “Critical Captions,” and Sims joins A.C. Newman on “One for the Record Books.”
Those midtempo numbers are the album’s highlights, along with the rowdier “These Things Are Nice,” the only song Brink and Reidell didn’t write. The other seven numbers are blends of electro-pop and literary hip-hop, with raps that mention novelist David Foster Wallace and biblical heroes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (previously invoked by the Beastie Boys on “Paul’s Boutique”). It would take more than such learned references, however, to elevate these sonic collages above the workmanlike.