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Go to the New Kingdom website  New Kingdom - Paradise Don't Come Cheap [Gee Street/Island - 1996]

When I first saw the video for Mexico Or Bust on Yo! MTV Raps years ago I immediately tracked down the album. Hiphop that didn't have an urban feel, but more of a desolate desert atmosphere, now that's something different!

Although from New York, the music of the Valhalla soothsayer and Nosaj (real names Sebastian Laws and Jason Furlow), does not sound typical for this town. The use of old blues samples, the slow, grinding rhythmtracks and the incredibly rough voice of Sebastian Laws make you think of traveling on a donkey through large amounts of sand in the hot, burning sun. Or driving down the highway in your pick-up truck with an endless straight road ahead and a barren lanscape to the left and right of you. They say their influences range from Black Sabbath to Run DMC, from Foetus to Miles Davis and although they do not literally quote these artists their are some similar sentiments to be found on this record.

On their first album, Heavy Load (1993), they sounded more like straight hiphop and on Paradise Don't Come Cheap a much more unique sound surfaces. As said before the tempo is slow and lazy. The lyrics are weird, somewhat impressionistic. These are the outer fringes of hiphop: it sounds more like Robert Johnsson being a B-boy instead of a bluesman. The music is rough, rugged and raw and Sebastian makes people like Son Of Bazerk, Mystical and DMX sound like choirboys. Tracks like Animal, Unicorns Were Horses and Infested are heavier than many a rockband, even without heavy guitars.

The production by Scott 'Scottie Hard' Harding and the Lumberjacks accordingly sludgy and organic. There are a lot of 'real' musicians on the album: Scottie Hard plays guitar and John Medeski from New York jazzband Medeski, Martin & Wood plays Hammond B-3 and Clavinet to name a few.

I'm afraid this band is now defunct. Sebastian Laws appeared under several names on various records though: on albums by Material, Spectre and Scottie Hard's solo-effort The Return Of Kill Dog-E. I also heard a recording of a superb liveshow by Praxis from 2000 where he guested. I hope this collaboration will be continued on a studio-album in the future.

I think this album appeals to anyone that likes experimental hiphop like Sensational and Dr. Octagon and even open-minded fans of stoner-bands like Kyuss.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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