Originally published through Tone Deaf.
Home Brew is the open door into a consuming, but beautifully expressed, world of disillusionment, substance abuse, and depression.
Tracks like the stunning ’55 Stories,’ or the claustrophobic ‘The Truth is Ugly,’ will bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened “Illmatic addicts.”
‘Dedicated To (Intro)’ is a kaleidoscope of tumbling wordplay, while vocalist Lui Tuiasau sounds like the NZ version of The Weeknd on the soulful ‘Fungi/Absence.’
Even the album’s happier fare, like the nostalgic ‘Basketball Court (ft. Esther Stevens)’ or the Stevie Wonder-esque ‘Yellow Snot Funk,’ are rendered bittersweet by the searingly honest portrayals of being (as their label is aptly named) young, gifted, and broke, around them.
Underneath the intensely personal subject matter, the soundscape is jazzy and intoxicating.
The sax is silky smooth, bubbles of reverb float past waves of chromatic piano, and the drumming is infused with a Caribbean groove.
The instrumentation is fairly consistent throughout, but there are enough nuances per track to keep things fresh.
With this album, Home Brew have put New Zealand on the hip hop map, and established themselves at the forefront of the genre.
An extraordinary effort.