Street Sweeper Social Club
Street Sweeper Social Club
"Revolutionary party jams, huge steamroller riffs combined with depth, charge, funk, clip after clip of incendiary rhymes rich with satire and venom." - Tom Morello Street Sweeper Social Club ,or SSSC for short, is the self-titled debut by a brand new hip hop/rock super group headed by Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine (in addition to the now defunct Audioslave) and Boots Riley of Hip Hop duo (formerly trio) The Coup.
Emerging as uniform clad revolutionary minstrels the collaboration has led to a new artistic realm, where both Riley and Morello visit familiar territory yet with a new kind of vigor.
For Morello it’s back to the politics. After the expiration of the super group Audioslave (Chris Cornell of Sound Garden combined with Rage Against The Machine minus Zach De La Rocha) and the recent reformation of R.A.T.M and subsequent tour, Morello is seemingly reenergized. Looking for a new star to shine with he selected Boots Riley of The Coup, whom he met on tour with Billy Bragg.
Meanwhile Riley has a respectable body of work with The Coup behind him, all in a political and largely Marxist vein. However the group gained notoriety for the wrongs reasons in 2001 when the artwork for their fourth album Party Music unfortunately predicted the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trader Centre in NYC, it’s scheduled release also falling in the month of September. Although a pure coincidence the cover was quickly changed, this then delayed the release and caused quite a storm when Riley tried to keep the original artwork against the label’s wishes.
While Morello and Riley had trodden different musical paths they have the same interests at heart, namely hip hop, funk fused rock and revolutionary politics. The results of their collaboration fuses Africa Bambarta and NWA style politic funk with some battle cries straight out of Woody Guthrie’s communist songbook. The guitar licks are the likes of which David Gilmore (of Pink Floyd) and Jeff Beck would be proud of, in addition to Morello’s further innovations in his soundscapes and jam dropping multi-octave solos. Needless to say once again will have people are asking,
“Are you sure that’s a guitar making that sound?”
However whereas Morello was aiming at emulating DJ sound effects with RATM, since Audioslave his playing has calmed down to an extent and led to him using more conventional techniques, (although at times it did leans towards “hey, let’s pretend we’re Led Zeppelin”, especially on the later Audioslave releases).As well as handling bass duties for this record, he is once again experimenting with his guitar playing but not in a way that clones his earlier work with R.A.T.M. more importantly he is once again he is musically powering a political vehicle: no one shouted Judas when it came to Audioslave but it would not have come as a surprise if they had.
Riley understandably offers a different political perspective to Zach de la Rocha (although still in the same ball park) and as he is more used to being backed by samples and drum loops this record puts him in more unfamiliar territory. The results of this dislocation seem to have only taken him to the next level. Meanwhile New Orleans style drummer Stanton Moore took care of the percussion of the record, weaving it all together in the background.
The lead single “100 Little Curses” begins with a barrage of harmonics from Morello’s Les Paul and stadium rock style, “whoooahhs” ,before tearing into a thumping hard funk riff while the flowing lyrics, which wish 100 misfortunes on those in upper reaches of society,
“Now you tumble and fall/Down your grand marble stairway/May the caviar, patois you were eating/Block your airway/May your manservant deliver/The Heimlich, with honor
/May this make you vomit on your DolceGabbana/May your wife’s worried face show her horrific expression/May you realize she’s not worried, that’s just Botox injections”
The “steam roller riffs”, as Morello describes them, just keep on coming, all the way to the anthem like chorus which further prophesizes the coming of the revolution.
Other notable tracks form the record include the fourth track, "The Squeeze", a lightning fast off beat declaration of the state of modern day America. Meanwhile the fifth, "Clap for the Killers", is punctuated by Morello’s zealous use of his Digitech whammy pedal, settling into a dirty club groove, over which Riley rhymes in a way that wouldn’t seem out of place on an old-school Wu Tang Clan album.
Yet the second to last track “Promenade” takes the crown with it’s thumping down-on-the-floor bass line, furious yet witty lyrics denouncing civil injustice, launching an unrelenting take down of red-neck, good ol’ boy culture. Morello’s guitar solo soars to new heights and the song takes off before touching down for a powerful end.
Street Sweeper Social Club further prove that Hip Hop and Rock can be melded, but without verging on the now rather embarrassing territory of Limp Bizkit and KoRN. Needless to say, there are no ‘street sweeper’ jeans in sight (ouch) nor a single SlipKnot hoodie. It’s familiar territory for fans of Rage Against The Machine and not completely out of the league for fans of The Coup either. Street Sweeper Social Club is the meeting of two beautiful oceans and the results are simply incendiary.
See for yourself: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYfuNpGOOu0&NR=1