Tuesday, April 2, 2013
RVSB-Raff vs. Bitman (Nacional Records, 2013)
From the album's title you might wrongly presume (as I did) that it's a DJ battle (remember those?). However this has nothing to do with a DMC championship or with turntablists showing off tricks to impress the judges or humiliate their opponent. This album is, instead, what you get when you lock two beat nerds and sonic architects in a studio with a bunch of hi-tech gadgets and ask them to come up with some futuristic shit. So there's no real "vs." on this Raff vs. Bitman, in fact you can't even tell one appart from the other.
What you can certainly do is compare this release to what they've done in the past and if that's what you were expecting, you might be either disappointed or surprised, because it's radically different. There's none of the glorious boom-bap beats that Raff used to spin on his Raffolution solo debut and none of the bossa-nova samples that Bitman has employed both on his solo stuff and on his more recent Ritmo Machine collaboration. Also, there're no guests stars (they both had collaborated with Ana Tijoux in the past, among many other Chilean hip-hop luminaires) except for some sparse vocal drops by pop chanteuse Francisca Valenzuela and rapper Chico Claudio.
What you will find is some modern top notch EDM with a lot of synths and heavy bass, very current sound. Sure thing, I would've loved if they'd kept at least some more break beats and scratch and made this less abstract. But I have to stand up and applaud them for having gotten away with Nacional Records releasing this album as is, without coercing them to add some Latin flavor in the mix (or adding the word Latin to the album title... or the artist's name). There's nothing explicitly Latin about this, except for two or three words en español and the fact that the album was recorded in Chile by Chilean artists so I'm sure the demographically segmented media in the US will have a hard time pigeonholing this and the label will have a hard time trying to get their attention. So yeah, in the end, I also have to give it to Nacional for having the balls to actually release this difficult album and not always falling into the niche clichés.
Buy it here.