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Thunderheist

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Album Review

An admirable attempt to shake up hipster dance music formulas that doesn't quite come off, Thunderheist's self-titled debut combines the decent if derivative talents of Isis — a real-deal MC who mostly limits herself here to dumbed-down good-times party rhymes — and Grahm Zilla, whose synth-laced productions take in Moroder-esque disco, old-school electro, stuttering crunk and B-more club, and brittle tech-funk. It's a promising merger, but the results are frustratingly uneven. While the blank-voiced Isis occasionally makes for an intriguing presence on the mic, as on the minimal, electro-flavored "Slow Roll" and "Cruise Low," too many of her ostensible hooks come off as tired and oddly dispassionate rehashes of the frank sex rap perfected by the likes Peaches and Spank Rock, not to mention Missy and Lil' Kim. That's particularly true of the duo's early singles ("Jerk It," "Bubblegum") and several of the other tracks packed towards the front of the album, where Zilla's beats are too plodding and one-note to provide much spark, either. Things get somewhat more colorful, or at least varied, in the album's latter half, with "The Party After"'s curiously murky booty-groove and "Space Cowboy"'s gleaming disco/R&B, which demonstrates — along with the surprisingly soulful early standout "Nothing 2 Step 2" — that Isis is far more engaging as a singer than as an MC. A few notably weak tracks notwithstanding, most of this material would be pretty enjoyable, or at least reasonably effective, in a club context — taken as an album, though, it's an unfortunately tepid, shruggable listen with a small handful of highlights. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Canada's electronic rap duo Thunderheist — MC Isis and producer Grahm Zilla — combine their love of old-school hip-hop with beats that draw on synth-disco, electro, and booty bass to make trendy party music that attempts to avoid ironic hipster detachment without taking itself too seriously. In 2006, on the suggestion of mutual friends, Zilla (aka Graham Bertie) of Montreal, the son of an Olympic wrestler and a struggling producer primarily focused on crafted J Dilla-inspired hip-hop...
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Thunderheist, Thunderheist
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