Wednesday 8 May 2019

HOLOS by Aquasocks Review

HOLOS – Aquasocks
Review by Steve Rider

For anyone who is not familiar with Aquasocks, then let me drop a little background for you. Aquasocks is the duo of Ghettosocks and Aquakulture, who hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ghettosocks is a Juno Award Nominee, ECMA Award winner and was listed in CBC’s list of the top 25 Canadian rappers of all time. The up and coming Aquakulture won the 2018 CBC searchlight competition. So, these guys are right up there when it comes to Canadian Hip Hop talent.

I was fortunate enough to be at Rope-A-Dope 4 in Bristol last year where B-Line Records, Specifik, had managed to arrange for Ghettosocks and Nilla to perform. If that was not dope enough that day I managed to pick up a copy of the 7” Abu Dhabi/Wires from the man himself and as this was to be the first release from an up and coming album then I really fancied reviewing it.

Fast forward to April this year and I contacted Aquasocks on the off chance I could review the Album, HOLOS, and here we are. So, let me get into this and break the album down track by track:

As soon as the beat kicks in for Wonderground, you get this instant feel that this is something underground with laid back style. This is the kinda style that has you kicking back on a lazy summer afternoon when you ain’t got anything to do but, chill and drift off into a dream land and this track takes you there whilst still keeping grounded in reality. While you are drifting off the track moves seamlessly into the laid back jazzy Marsha Ambrosius. Keeping you chilled on the beat with a dope jazzy soulful sound. Verse to verse Socks and Aqua hit you with more realness than a 30 minute newscast.

Keeping you in that dreamy mind state the beat hits for Higher Learning, which features the soulful tones of Chudi Harris. Reminding you to keep your faith in who you are and what you’re doing. Because that is the way we can the best expression of who we are. Dropping next is the slightly heavier but, no less laid back jazz fuelled style of Sensei & Grasshopper, which drops knowledge on you from a time and space you may not have experienced before.

Upping the pace a little, the beat hits for My Escape, A track with that jazzy feel which has the guys giving us the lowdown on planning their escape from the material world. Halfway through the album and we drift into Abu Dhabi, the Ltd Edition 7” release, which takes on journey through the highs and lows of life and the things we all dream about if we were to be gifted a lottery win. A soulful beat with a jazz horn ensures this track retains that laid back feel as drift on.

 Conversation is up next and Aquasocks keep us lazily drifting through a deep track that reminds you of the simple things and that really all you need to do is talk, after all Conversation is the Key to life. Up next is the heavy Trump Tight, which features Shevy Price. This track is all about getting things of your chest and not holding back and here all three emcee’s bounce off each other keeping it tight and real.

Star Tropics drops next, the penultimate track which is all about gaming. Something most of us can associate with and while it’s great to take a break and have some fun, it’s important to remember to not let that shit get in the way of life and those around you. There is a world out there so enjoy it and enjoy all your relationships with loved ones and nature. The last track on the Album is a remix of the B side to the Ltd Ed 7”, Wires. A heavy beat with some nice horns, this track keeps the feel of the album going to the end. Letting you know how Aquasocks are bringing you that classic Hip Hop flow from beginning to the last beat drops.

The thing that struck me instantly about this album is that, for those of us who have been listening to Hip Hop for many years, this album encapsulates the feel and execution of many great acts who have held the Hip Hop space over the years. While listening for the first time and indeed every listen since, I have been transported to the days of Gang Starr, ATCQ, The Pharcyde and others besides. This album has so much to offer both to the Old Skool heads and those new to Hip Hop, which it does by mixing dope Hip Hop beats with a Jazz, soulful element and laying down real heavy, deep lyrics that hold your attention line for line.

Production here is almost perfection and comes from Bix (aka @INJAY), Ghettosocks, DJ Uncle Fester & Goonie Beats. Track to track from the most laid back to the more heavy tracks everything flows seamlessly and with laid back but, still with an edge. Each beats just works and really has been crafted expertly.

Lyrically Ghettosocks and Aquakulture, bring an element some might call ‘Grown Man Rap’. They bounce off each other, track to track, keeping the flow tight, at all times, with a deep knowledge that the old skool heads among us will appreciate and may well associate with the likes of Chuck D, Rakim and so on. Running through the tracks, the way these two gel together, gives you the essence of who each of them are and their frienship. 
You might not agree with me 100%, which is fine; just see where each track takes you. You might see it from a totally different angle to me and it might take you somewhere totally different but, then that’s what I love so much about music, it takes each of us where we need to go.

From listening to that first 7” and now the album I was really impressed with everything about Holos. It brings a vibe all its own hitting you with elements that have been drifting out of some Hip Hop vibes recently. For me this album is a solid, superbly crafted and has been executed in a refined manor which gives you the feel this album was put together with dedication and deep love of the music. It has also stood the test of time, still sounding as fresh now as it did the first time, no matter where I’m listening to it, in the car, on the headphones, it just don’t matter. 

It all comes down to the fact HOLOS is definitely one for your collection. As debuts go, you can’t do much more than what Aquasocks has done on this release.

HOLOS is released by Black Buffalo records, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Drops May 10th. Check the links below.

All cuts on the Album come from DJ Uncle Fester.

Artwork comes from Jools Annie with Design and layout from Ghettosocks.

Till next time, I’m out...




Trump Tight - Official Video

Album Promo