The only town in Iowa where hip-hop has a heartbeat has finally put out
something worthy of attention.
Iowa City hip-hop producer Timothy Tack, aka Tack Fu, has pulled his
production team together and created a 20-track album of much higher
caliber than one would expect from such an uncompetitive region.
Although his only education in music was a semester of music appreciation
at the University of Iowa and some piano lessons as a kid, Tack's ear for
harmonizing beats, various instruments and vocals are promising.
The project is a laid-back disc that works nicely as background music.
However, like any good hip-hop release, closer listening reveals deeper
layers that are more thought-out than they appear on the surface.
Coming from a producer rather than a rapper, "85 decibel Monks" must be
judged on its coherence and layering quality more than its rhyme content.
Tack Fu and friends lay down jazz break beats and some trendy Indian sounds,
but they never seem overdone.
Lyrically, Tack Fu keeps things low-key and relaxed. A very impressive
poetry reading by Rachel Kann on "Lie Down Beside You" flows in the vein
of Ursula Rucker's beat-backed spoken word.
Cousin of Iowa City's most successful hip-hop group, Bad Fathers, sounds
even more fitting on "85 decibel Monks" than on his own group's newer
material. His highlight performance is the reading of a recipe for "Weed
Cookies," laced with playful, yet soothing piano riffs.
Members of Bad Fathers (formerly The Committee) dominate the voices heard
on the album but Tack Fu also brings in some talent from outside the local
The most notable MCs dropping bars for Tack Fu are Blueprint of Soul Position,
ManChild of Mars Ill and Illogic. None of the verses are knockouts, but they
fit well with the sounds surrounding them, which is just as important.
This is not hip-hop for dance clubs. This is not Dr. Dre's production.
This is refined, instrumental hip-hop that would fit better on Mush Records
than any mainstream label. It's the one hip-hop release from Iowa that could
be proudly sold on the streets of D.C.
-- Andrew Mabe
|You can purchase the physical disk on line
| or download it|