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'The Hard Road Restrung' is the 2007 remix album by the Hilltop Hoods of their previous release, 'The Hard Road'. The Hilltop Hoods are Australia's premier hip-hop group, and for me the best music to ever come out of that country. The group consist of MC's Suffa and Pressure, and DJ Debris, they were brought up in Adelaide, where the two MC's met during school and formed the group, basing the name on the nickname the local youth had for the area they lived in. The group credit Public Enemy, Notorious BIG, KRS-One and Gang Starr among their main influences.
THRR is unlike any other hip-hop remix album I have heard, all the tracks have been re-worked by composer Jamie Messenger and 'restrung' by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The concept for the album originally came from a performance during the 2006 Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards in which the Hoods played the Hard Road single with the ASO live. They have since taken the album on tour and in 2007 toured the UK with the ASO, which I'm sure was an amazing live show. The album is actually censored, this was down to the fact the group believed it would be a condition of playing with the ASO not to have swearing in the music, by the time they found out the ASO couldn't have cared if there was swearing or not the album was too far down the mastering and mixing process for them to go back and change things.
1 - The Hard Road Restrung
The original is one of my favourite songs from the Aussie rappers so I was quite excited to hear this, The Hard Road is the story of each members youth and journey to where they are now. The lyrics in this one really work well and convey each member's different paths cleverly. The string symphony sounds so melodic and fits so well, it really brings a lot to this track, this ones almost on par with the original.
2 - Stopping All Stations Restrung
A very clever song telling the bleak story of a war veteran involved in a violent mugging and a women who tries to help him. Each of the 3 verses takes the different perspective of the people involved, the war veteran old man first, the drug addicted women second, and finally the smack addict thief. The symphony is at full effect on this track, basically switching up the original music completely, to me this borderline better than the original, the music only adds to the powerful lyrics and story telling on the track, while the lyrics have been changed for the last verse with a different ending than the original. Even if you don't like rap you should be able to appreciate the story telling and production.
3 - Conversations from a Speakeasy Restrung feat Omni
The original was a very blues/jazz sounding track with the hip-hop sound mixed in, the restrung version is total Jazz right down to the crazy trumpets playing throughout. Love this one, much better than the original which was a good song, Omni's flow works well with the Hoods as he has a much deeper sound, mix that with the jazz beats and everything comes together perfectly.
4 - Audience with the Devil Restrung
More story telling, this time the Hilltop Hoods are meeting the Devil who is offering them the chance to join him by his side but also tells them it doesn't matter if they don't as human kind is destroying itself more everyday. The commentary on the state of the world hidden inside this story is powerful, the spoken samples are picked perfectly, lyrically this may be the hoods most clever track. The new beats make this one a much easier track to follow the lyrics to, the symphony seem to just make the word that bit more clearer.
5 - Monsters Ball Restrung
This track doesn't sound as different to the original as some of the others have so far, the symphony seems to amplify the original beats, this is better than the original.
6 - Breathe Restrung
The original was already one of the most laid back songs these guys have done, the restrung version is one of the most laid back rap songs I've heard in years, the music is truly beautiful. One to sit back and relax to with a drink and smoke in my opinion.
7 - Another Great Intro
A quick intro of on of the Hoods partner coming in from a night on the drink at 8am while Mc is about to go and work, on the original it was the other way round.
8 - What a Great Night Restrung
A very interesting track that flitters between almost being a rock song to being a melody, works well, a nice track, love the lyrics which are basically about going out getting drunk with your friends.
9 - Obese Lowlifes Restrung feat Mystro and Braintax
A comedic track featuring British mc's, Mystro and a personal favourite of mine Braintax. The rappers are basically putting themselves down on this one while also taking shots at politicians Tony Blair, John Howard, and George Bush. The music is decent and probably for most people better than the original but I think I preferred the raw hip-hop sound on The Hard Road album.
10 - City of Light Restrung
The story of what the band members did before they made a success of themselves and what their experiences were in Adelaide. Another excellently produced track, its a very relaxing sound in contrast to the lyrics and their story of struggle. This song combined with 'The Hard Road' track really gives a interesting insight into the groups background.
11 - Clown Prince Restrung
Considering how much of a bouncy, hip-hop track the original was this version does very well to switch up the sound while still making the lyrics fit well, some great lines in here.
Man I'm smooth like Marlon Brando at 30,
at my peak like Marlon Brando at 50,
and I'm fat like Marlon Brando at 70,
f*ck it no mc could ever better me.
An arrogant f*ck, damaging suckers masterfully,
if I married your mother you still wouldn't be half of me,
you should run from me,
f*ck battling, ain't nothing sweet,
coz I won't beat you to the punch I'll punch you to the beat.
Don't be offended by the rubbish we pump in the street,
my foots always in my mouth, they just cant stomach defeat.
12 - The Captured Vibe Restrung
An instrumental track, quite nice sounding, but nothing special.
13 - Recapturing the Vibe Restrung
I'm not keen on the original and I'm not keen on this track, the raps are good and all, plus the production sounds nice but these guys are capable of better.
14 - Roll On Up
The one brand new track on the album, and what a way to finish. Very laid back sounding hip-hop beats with some meaningful lyrics rapped with no urgency but the flow fits with the music. Love this track, it's hit a chord with me on first listen.
A deserved 9/10 from me, it may have been 10/10 except for a couple of the later songs, these guys have a real talent and deserve to be heard by a wider audience, this album is a true classic, love the idea behind it, when the rumour was out Dr Dre's next album was going to be a hip-hop/orchestra infusion this album is what I thought some of it would sound like. Recommended for rap fans, and fans of good music.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hard Road Restrung
2 Stopping All Stations Restrung
3 Conversations from a Speakeasy Restrung - Hilltop Hoods, ,
4 Audience with the Devil Restrung
5 Monsters Ball Restrung
6 Breathe Restrung
7 Another Great Intro
8 What a Great Night Restrung
9 Obese Lowlifes Restrung - Braintax, Hilltop Hoods, Mystro
10 City of Light Restrung
11 Clown Prince Restrung
12 Medley: The Captured Vibe Restrung
13 Medley: Recapturing the Vibe Restrung
14 Roll on Up