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Fight With Tools

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Album Review

When listening to the Flobots debut album, Fight with Tools, there's a feeling that all the destruction and injustice this politically motivated alt rap crew speak of has been seen through CNN YouTube. There's a certain grit missing, a certain soul that comes from living the nightmare and surviving, and whether they've been through it or not, the Flobots just don't display it. Fight with Tools also feels like a college class project partly because it's so clean, but also because it's incredibly busy with ambition and new ideas overflowing as everything and the kitchen sink get thrown into the record. This youthful ambition and willingness to explore is also what makes the record special. The Denver crew enter by spitting out a Gil Scott-Heron by way of Def Poetry Jam bit of prose on the opening "There's a War Going on for Your Mind," offering surreal lines like "It's raining pornography/Lovers take shelter" over melancholy chamber music. That's the Flobots' real hook; they rap with a live band, and not the guitar, bass, drums beat combo you've seen before. It's all of the above and some strings, horns, and other things left over from the orchestra and marching band. This isn't as Kids from Fame as it sounds, since the Flobots do have a believablly stern pose, and if they aren't experienced, they are brilliantly educated and aware. Good points are made with skill and fine wordplay, the guitars and drums crunch along driving home the message with head-bobbing grooves, and then album opens up with the marvelous "Handlebars," a carefully crafted, slowly building tale of the ego run wild via some beautiful muted trumpet. It's a very Fort Minor moment, and sweet relief from all the pain and in-your-face politics, suggesting the Flobots could benefit from a little more restraint. Here, they've got so much to stay it's hardly worth considering. If the talented young bucks want to shout down the world as if they own the place, why curb their inspiring appetite for justice by asking for discipline and composure?

Customer Reviews

no way

when i heard handlebars on the radio, i was like 'no way, a rap song without swearing and degrading stuff against women? with a meaning? this isnt real'. all of the songs on here are brilliant, and unlike lil wayne and 50 cent, this is rap that DESERVES the spotlight!

Wow suprisingly great

Never heard of these guys but previewed a couple songs and bought the album, and Im really glad I did. Its real deep stuff, political hiphop with a great beat. The main emcee sounds a lot like Classified, which is a good thing, and their sound, with the real instruments including drums and horns, is something like you'd hear from the Roots. Critical of US policies in many of their songs you can tell where these guys stand in politics but it doesnt sound preachy. They do it very well. Definately worth the purchase of the whole album. Glad I gave these guys a chance

Preachy, but still fairly unique

Firstly, to everyone who wrote a review saying something along the lines of, "Wow! I used to never listen to rap before because I always assumed it was a playground for immature thugs and gangsters, but Flobots sure changed my mind!", feel free to feel embarrassed for yourselves. Positive hip-hop (De La Soul, early The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One) has been around since the birth of the genre, so stop being so naive. Also, being ignorant about any genre is ridiculous and immature. By sticking your nose in the air when it comes to hip-hop, you are just showing that you are not mature enough to fully appreciate music. Hip-hop is a genre of equal merit to metal, electronic, alt. rock, etc. No one genre is "superior" to another. That being said, a hip-hop band also isn't anything new (see: The Roots). However, the dynamic of the band is interesting; choosing to have a classically trained violinist in your band adds variety. Also, as the title of this review indicates, this album is PREACHY. I wouldn't be surprised if the Flobots were used in every single democratic campaign advertisement or as the theme songs to 1001 different charity organizations. Of course preaching change and goodness is not a bad thing in itself, but hammering your listeners with it diminishes the value of the message. All in all, I found their sound to be rather refreshing (the lead rapper's flow is easy to listen to), however for a sophomore attempt, they should try to venture into new territories when it comes to topics to express.


Formed: 2005 in Denver, CO

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Featuring dual MCs as well as a full band, Flobots are a progressive rap group from Denver, CO, with a political conscience, musical chops, and a powerful live show. Influenced by progressive rappers such as the Roots and Common as well as alternative hard rock bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Tool, Flobots were founded in 2005, comprised of MCs Jonny 5 (born Jamie Laurie) and Brer Rabbit (born Stephen Brackett) -- who originally met in elementary school -- along with musicians Andy Guerrero...
Full bio
Fight With Tools, Flobots
View in iTunes
  • $8.99
  • Genres: Hip-Hop/Rap, Music, Alternative Rap
  • Released: Jan 01, 2008
  • Parental Advisory

Customer Ratings