Quarashi: Jinx (Columbia)

And the scratches—oh, the predictable scratches. For shame.

Nothing wrong with being compared with the Beastie Boys, right? I mean, they’ve sold millions of records, earned their place in pop music history textbooks, and raised money for oppressed Tibetans to boot. Then again, in their early days they rhymed a lot about beer, carried an attitude that everyone wished was ironic when in fact it wasn’t, and displayed an acute lack of musical prowess. All debates about the punk aesthetic aside, it seems as though the Icelandic rap quartet Quarashi (from the pidgin Arabic meaning “supernatural”) can’t escape American press comparisons to a certain other group of unashamed white boys. The difference is this: one has clearly evolved while the other appears to have taken “old school” back into the primordial soup.

Quarashi are comprised of three MCs (Hossi Olafsson, Stoney Fjelsted, and Omar Swarez) and their producer/drummer/songwriter Solvi Blondal. On Jinx, its first American release, Quarashi claim that it isattempting to take rap back to a time when it was cool to actually call it rap (i.e., not hip-hop, which is actually a wider reference to a culture rather than a musical style). They unfortunately fall amazingly short. The better tracks on this full-length are actually quite head-nodding and smooth: the beats on “Copycat” and “Weirdo” are to die for. It’s Olafsson’s high-pitched Mike D takeoff and Blondal’s heavy-handed production skills that get in the way of any originality in the way of lyrics or sampling techniques. And the scratches—oh, the predictable scratches. For shame.

Should you happened to own any Limp Bizkit, or like your Rage Against rhe Machine’s self-titled disc slathered with an overdose of frat boy-era Beasties, then please check out this record.

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