Nowadays almost all music is downloaded/bought online, and for some reason people still actually go to shops and buy CDs? Did they fly to the shop on a pterodactyl or something? Needless to say Modus Operandi is [one of the few and] probably the last physical album I’ve bought and I bought it from two street performers in the centre of Broadmead, Bristol. I walked past, liked the gist of that particular track they were performing and thought I’d support the local arts and buy a CD, for £10, yes £10, I was politely robbed of my hard earned cash in return for a homemade album from two local artists, Mr Woodnote and Lil Rhys.
Mr Woodnote is the brains behind the project, the producer, the one who crafts the music and Lil Rhys is the MC who raps over the top of the beats. It is nothing short of a coincidence that I’m reviewing Modus Operandi following Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist, another independent producer who utilises saxophones and brass with a close [independent] collaborator rapping over the beat.
I was pleasantly surprised with Modus Operandi although the bulk of the highlights are at the beginning. Opening track 2nd Hand Jam is the best song of the disc and it works in the same way Thrift Shop does, without the fancy production behind the saxophone. Ultimately it’s a bit like a subtle, British translation of the track and it boasts great lyrics like ‘On the bounding seas we’ll make waves, the great apes, we’ll break chains, embrace pains and race to the space age’. Lil Rhys is a talented MC who spits great bars with an individualistic flow and persona.
Following track Space Dust allows Eva Lazarus to get in on the action, and harmonise against Lil Rhys raps while dominating the minimalist beat with a belter of a middle 8 in which she hypnotises, then sucker punches you with some incredible vocal work.
An incredibly creative, stylistic and intelligent outro to track five, They Say So is a suitable way to end a song clearly having a pop at the powers that be. It’s a recording of supposedly a council worker in which she asks the pair to stop performing and leave, the twist comes when Lil Rhys offers her a CD, and she buys it! Wether or not this is a genuine recording is debatable but it’s certainly a great piece of imagery and compliments the track exquisitely, the track ends with one of the two saying ‘she’s gone’ before continuing with a finalising saxophone solo which also made me chuckle.
It’s great to see an independent album pulled off as well as this, I’m glad I bought Modus Operandi and in the future I’d love to see the pair live, especially considering they’re likely to perform right on my doorstep. I’d highly recommend you give Mr Woodnote and Lil Rhys’ collaborative effort a listen, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear an innovative take on rap executed so well.