Sunday, February 17, 2008

Adam Tensta - It's a Tensta Thing (2007)

Artist: Adam Tensta

Album: It's a Tensta Thing

Released: September '07

Label: Respect My Hustle Entertainment(RMH Ent) in association with K-Werks; Stockholm, Sweden

Style: Electro, HipHop, 80s-Influenced

Buy From: Amazon

1. It's A Tensta Thing (Prod. Howard Who)
2. Bangin' On The System (Prod. Kajmir)
3. My Cool (Prod. Addeboy vs. Cliff)
4. Walk With Me (Prod. Howard Who)
5. Dopeboy Feat. Eboi (Prod. Howard Who)
6. See U Watchin Feat. Nitti Gritti (Prod. Leslie & Nitti Gritti)
7. Do The Right Thing (Prod. Gifted)
8. They Wanna Know (Prod. Addeboy vs. Cliff)
9. I'm Sayin' Feat. Isay (Prod. Gifted)
10. 80's Baby (Prod. Keione)
11. S.t.o.l.d. Feat. Eboi (Prod. Addeboy vs. Cliff)
12. Incredible Feat. Isay (Prod. Howard Who)
13. Before U Know It (Prod. Leslie)
14. Same Face (Prod. Howard Who)

Swedish MC Adam Tensta is taking the world of Hip Hop by storm with his new breed of Electro-Rap. Hailing from the city of Stockholm, and taking his name from the city's suburbian district Tensta, this 80s child is just what the doctor ordered after a deafening pause from the Swedish HipHop scene. His new album It's a Tensta Thing has seen two singles do very well on Swedish airwaves, but can he sell pop-sensible Americans with his genre-bending new breed of HipHop?

I think he can. His refreshing take on the genre is..well, refreshing. Take the track They Wanna Know for example. He specifically mentions not selling drugs, not banging in gangs, dressing how he wants because that's how he likes it, keeping his personal business private, and respect to his mother. Also, he reps his hood, having the entire video shot in Tensta.

Then lets listen to My Cool for a second. This track is just awesome. It's obviously electro, completely danceable, and the HipHop aspects are rock solid. His verses are tight, the production is tight, and while the entire song is about how cool he is, that coolness is not based on how many bitches he fucked, or how many stacks he made in the dope game, nor - believe it or not - how big the rims on his car may be. He's cool because he dresses fly, his beats are dope, and he struts his shit. Plus, the video is straight out of 1985. I'll spare the details on that and just link to it because the shit is hot, you shouldn't miss it.

Moving on, my favorite song from the whole album is Dopeboy, featuring Eboi. Again we see the hot 80s electro influences, tight flows, and a straying away from traditional gangsta rap themes. The song, though it calls out many times "Do I look like I sell drugs?!" is actually about how Tensta and his boys, in fact, do not sell drugs, and apparently look like they do because they get stopped by security all the time, despite the fact that the real dopeboys are all over the clubs everywhere making bank every saturday night. I think the song is really about profiling, when you get down to it.

There's tons of other hot tracks, though the album doesn't entirely subscribe to the Electro/HipHop hybrid theory - no L-Park pun intended. Bangin' on the System is one track that I think is pretty bland, alongside Walk with Me. While other tracks stray in a good way; I'm Sayin', featuring Isay, is an essential track for this album, showing Tensta's lighter side with a little soul.

Another point I feel is worth mentioning is Europe's love of the 80s. Many 80s children are now growing up into aspiring musicians and repping their 80s roots, Calvin Harris, namely. Being an 80s kid myself, I can totally appreciate this sentiment. I sport my 80s birthday proudly all the time (85 in da hizzee wut wut) and it's pretty rad when people making hot music do it too. I don't see why we don't hear more of it here in the states, considering most of what everyone loves about the 80s was made here (Charles in Charge, MTV, Atari, etc). I think perhaps it's because those of us born in the 80s here in the US are just starting to try to figure out how we're going to try to stay afloat in fascist america; finding time to record a hit album is a little tough. Though, truthfully, I'm not sure how much easier Europe's 80s babies have got it.

The song I'm referring to on Tensta's album is called 80s Baby, and while on the surface it appears to be about him being born in the 80s and reping that, there's a darker underside to the song, as throughout the entire album. The fact is, Tensta is a ghetto of Stockholm, not so much a suburb like we think of suburbs here in the states: nice houses that all look the same in perfect rows ending in culdesacs. While 80s babies in America were waking up to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles every saturday morning, Tensta talks about waking up to drug raids. The album makes you want to dance on most songs, giving it an air of neutrality to the problems of society, as dancing is thought by most to be an escape from the pressures of life. Tensta won't let us forget those problems, however; he forces us to remain aware of them, and not by glamorizing them but by addressing the lives they affect, specifically the little kids he mentions consistently throughout the album.

In closing, this album is totally hot, politically aware, and pretty much everything I wish American Hip Hop was moving towards today - minus the boring tracks. Watch the videos, listen to the tracks in my Box widget, maybe even buy it and decide for yourself.

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