The emphasis on mastering the live performance is now becoming mandatory for all acts, regardless of how programmed their recorded music may be, with promoters seeking performers who are able to connect with vibrant crowds and create atmosphere with live instruments and exceptional vocalists. Eight piece Hip Hop collective Lazy Habits are very much adept at all of the above; made up of percussionists, saxophonists, vocalists and a lead in MC Lazy, the UK band have supported the likes of Mos Def and Bonobo in addition to performing at Glastonbury and Bestival. Now transferring their multi layered sounds to an album, Lazy Habits will put to the test the mini orchestra’s ability to capture the essence of their output on wax.
Inspired by numerous eras of music, the opener “Processional” operates in the steady moving New Orleans Big Band style, with trumpets and percussion working in sync. The tempo quickly shifts to the more snappy “Ashes,” where MC Lazy provides the first of many slickly recited verses. Telling stories of everyday occurrences in London town, Lazy’s anecdotes of disillusionment, decision making and everyday people are delivered with enthusiasm to match the live band’s emphatic production.
The teenage angst and built up frustrations on “Starting Fires” was shadowed in controversy due to the London riots but its potent message still reverberates to great effect. Maintaining a focused mentality is the theme of the DJ scratch heavy “Surface Dirt,” as MC Lazy’s battling against complacency is uttered with venom over the jazzed up instrumental provided. At times when opting to rhyme the MC produces unrequired, overamped rap performances, taking away from the delicate productions on offer, but when tuning into his harmonious side numerous highlights begin to surface.
When teaming up with the ever impressive vocal talents of Baby Sol for “Memory Banks,” the brass heavy cut stands out for its cool deliverance from both the instrumentalists and the vocalists on hand. When the age old parable of choosing the right path in life is explored on “The Road,” again Lazy Habits create yet another gem. With an array of jazzed up horns and drums working in unison with Lazy’s solid vocal performance, the Hackney collective highlight their strength in unifying a potent message with excellent backing production.
Capturing the varied moods of London town, the Lazy Habits album impresses on many fronts. From its ode to numerous genres to the musical execution itself, the enjoyable, overall feel-good atmosphere created is a fitting tribute to live musicianship and the skill involved in doing so. Whilst some of the stories weaved into songs could be explored with greater depth, the group desire to provide meaningful material to muse over should be respected on this solid project.