The Mouse Outfit - Escape Music
It doesn't happen very often when a Hip Hop group can completely change the way we think about the genre. When bands like The Roots started to record albums with a full live band and play huge ensemble shows, the US Hip-Hop scene changed: it gave the genre a new found energy and an extra vibrancy to the shows and the records they produced. When The Mouse Outift released 'Escape Music' in 2013, it had a similar effect on the UK Hip-Hop scene with the group mingling Hip-Hop with Jazz, Ska and Dub to produce a 19 track masterpiece that has set the tone for the UK scene in the last few years.
The band started in 2008 as a jam night called 'In the Loop', where rappers would freestyle to live breaks from The Mouse Outift band, creating a live show of hip hop and funk breaks - it is this loose structure nurtured in their original live shows that set apart the production of 'Escape Music' from anything on the scene at the time. However, it was the arrival of slick emcees Dr Syntax and Sparkz that marked a step up in their game and they, along with the likes of Truthos Mufasa, were to become the backbone for 'Escape Music.' The album displays production on a different level to what had seen on the UK hip-hop scene before. It glides effortlessly round a whole plethora of genres, mixing old-school hip-hop beats with rich and jazzy horn sections; slamming drum beats and lyrical genius. It's for this reason, and also their electrifying live show, that means The Mouse Outfit appeal to a far wider audience than one might expect. Dr Syntax and co. are able to get 'old timers back in touch with their inner youth' as they 'kick it smooth with a jazzy interlude, then hit you with the old switcheroo that lifts the mood'. Up-tempo beats like 'Ain't Goin' Nowhere', the Ska rhythm, horns and Dub b-lines of 'Who Gwan Test' and the funky bass rift of 'Know My Face' highlight that the band are producing 'music to get yer moving.'
Dr Syntax is the frontman, producing verses relatable to everyone who listens. Yet the album is also an exhibition for the young, up and coming talent in the Manchester hip-hop scene. In the past few years, the metoric rise of of LEVELZ is testament to some of the emcees involved in both groups like Black Josh and Truthos Mufasa. 'Escape Music' is full of attitude and 'dutty' Manchester charm; a homage to 'mornin/afternoon/night smokers' and a showcase and a voice for what this restless city has to offer.
Written by: Toby