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Romance Ain't Dead

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Album Review

Repping Northern England with his singsongy delivery and self-deprecating rhymes, Kid Acne, aka Eddy Fresh, brings a refreshing face to British hip-hop. Neither grime — though there are certain electronic percussive elements that recall the genre — nor with straight-up American beats, Ackers talk-raps his way through the 11 tracks on Romance Ain't Dead with a kind of geniality that makes his short, simple hooks almost always seem fun and fitting. While not the most talented MC ever, Kid Acne has an amiability that transcends the spaces his rhymes can't quite fill. "Oh wait, SMS the ex/Says I'd like some place to dump me mess/That went down well as you might expect/And then I copped off with her mate instead/...Nice one Ed, no one's impressed" he says in "Worst Luck" before the near-hyphy hook of "I got two phones like a drug dealer, two phones like a drug dealer" comes in, the whole thing strangely catchy and enjoyable. The same thing cannot be said, unfortunately, of the times the record delves into "punk," like in "2,3 Break It" and "Oh No You Didn't" where the cheapish, mechanized beats and synthesized instruments that had fit the sparse hip-hop styled production so well just sound, well, cheap and mechanized, forgetting that the scraped-and-bloody-finger sound, the crackle of bad amps and crappy strings, are so essential to punk, and anything else just comes off as a cheap exploitation. Better is when he sticks to what he knows, like on his tribute to his home "South Yorks," the slow '50s-jingle-inspired "Fcuk All Lately," or the tongue in cheek "Don't Pity Me," the echo of the drums a perfect fit to his lazy, can't-quite-get-these-words-off-my-lips style. Is Romance Ain't Dead a brilliant rap album? No. But is it still a lot of fun? Absolutely.


Born: England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

North England rhymesayer and graffiti artist Kid Acne makes sparse, '80s-flavored hip-hop beats the perfect backdrops for satirical lyrics and clever Brit humor. Nobody really took notice of the Sheffield-based rapper until the release of his second album, Council Pop (2003), which enjoyed critical praise from the U.K. to Japan for its witty and sarcastic critiques of pop culture. Acne's first creative forays were drawing comic books and graffiti writing when 12 years old, which gradually evolved...
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Romance Ain't Dead, Kid Acne
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