Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling)
Unlike most rap vocalists, Ugly Duckling's Andy Cooper has rarely worked outside of his band but, recently, he decided to record a ten-song LP to explore his abilities as an MC and producer. 'Room to Breathe-The Free LP' features a highly creative Hip-Hop veteran showcasing his mastery of fundamental rap skill while, at the same time, daringly pushing the boundaries of lyrical possibility. Andy also holds down things on the beat, using his years of experience as U.D. co-producer to combine classic, sample-rich sound with a more rugged and modern sensibility.
Being that 'Room To Breathe' was Andy's first undertaking as an individual artist, he was somewhat unsure how to approach the project, but once he got immersed in the recording process, he grew to love the freedom that solo work provides. Andy reflects, "U.D. has been the focus of my creative life since I was 18 and almost every idea I've ever had was formulated to fit within a group concept so, these days, I'm really enjoying the unencumbered liberty to explore my lyrical ability and do things that wouldn't have made sense within Ugly Duckling". On songs like 'Bring It To Me' and 'Number One', Andy tests the limits of vocal speed and precision, crafting relentless, ear-scorching rap verses; 'Number One' may well contain the fastest stanza ever spit. 'Do the Charlie Brown', co-produced by Ugly Duckling's Young Einstein, is a homage to Andy's favorite cartoon crew while 'Room To Breathe' (the song) is a super-cool funk tune that has Cooper swinging in the braggadocios tradition of 'Slick Rick' or 'Special Ed'.
'Chasing the Funk' showcases Berlin's mighty True Beatz Crew bringing
their brand of rock-solid production to the album and 'Unlikely
Assassin' is Andy's homage to all the coolest, 1960's secret
agents with licenses to kill; Cooper murders microphones, of course.
'Blind Faith' has Andy walking down mysterious and meaningful pathways over a melodious guitar lick while 'Thanks and Goodnight' is a cathartic and thoughtful exploration of an artist's career built on an uplifting Soul groove reminiscent of tunes like BDP's 'My Philosophy' or Nas' 'Memory Lane'.
'Ashes to Ashes' is an eerie and edgy track which blends dark,
piercing Electro rhythms with gritty, funk drum-breaks and general
strangeness. This haunting soundscape supports Andy's scathing
ode to Hip-Hop's culture and its, according to him, unfortunate demise.
"From my point of view, mainstream Hip-Hop is more of a clown-show than anything else which is sad because many of the rappers who participate in, what I would call, 'buffoonery for the sake of commercial success' are actually very talented people". The final song 'Bring It To Me (The Allergies Remix)' features an up-and-coming UK production team supplying heat in a manner reminiscent of The Bomb Squad in their Public Enemy heyday.
Obviously, projects come and go faster than I can finish this sentence but 'Room To Breathe-The Free LP' is truly worth digesting because it challenges the standard Hip-Hop formulas on the market. Rather than jumping on the latest trend or standing firm on Old-School principles, Andy utilizes all the resources of experience, technology and a relentlessly imaginative mind to offer something traditional, yet exciting and relevant. Any listener who is an authentic connoisseur of Rap Music will be both stimulated and energized by this release which is truly, and literally, a gift to weary Hip-Hop fans who have just about given up on the genre. 'Room To Breathe' is the product of Andy Cooper's thousands of hours of dedicated toil in studios and on stages, he's now welcoming you to taste the fruits of his labor.